AAP Rugby

Rookie halves square off in Super opener

By AAP Newswire

Australia's Super Rugby opener will feature a battle of 20-year-old flyhalves as a new playmaker era dawns post the World Cup.

Brumbies debutant Noah Lolesio will square off against rising Queensland Reds star Isaac Lucas when their teams clash at Canberra Stadium on Friday night.

Lolesio is uncapped and replaces former skipper Christian Lealiifano, who has moved overseas, while Lucas has only one Super Rugby start at No. 10.

It marks a changing of the guard in Australian rugby with Melbourne Rebels' Matt Toomua the only international five-eighth left in the country following the departures of Lealiifano and Bernard Foley.

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar says a "cool and calm" Lolesio will not be overawed by the occasion.

"He came down here full of confidence, from day one he's been very vocal and comfortable in directing and pushing much older players around the park," McKellar said.

"I said to Noah last year, 'I'd like you to do some goal-kicking in a game so that you're under pressure' and he said to me, 'What's pressure?'

"That's just sort of the attitude he has; he's not arrogant and doesn't get ahead of himself but he has that self-confidence and belief in his own ability and is very calm and composed.

"He'll make a mistake or two along the way as we all do; it's about how we respond and how we react to that."

Lucas is the youngest of four boys who play professional rugby and McKellar coached second-oldest Matt at the Brumbies for past two years.

"Isaac is a threat. You can tell he's grown up and played a lot of footy in the backyard with his brothers," McKellar said.

"He's just a natural footballer and he's had that from when he was a kid. He's got natural instincts, he's got good footwork, speed off the mark.

"But he's got to also direct them around the park and playing Super Rugby at No. 10 is a different ball game when you've got line speed pressure."

Wallabies quintet David Pocock, Christian Lealiifano, Henry Speight, Rory Arnold and Sam Carter left the Brumbies this off-season.

The Reds lost Australian-capped Samu Kerevi, Scott Higginbotham, Sefa Naivalu and Caleb Timu.

It means there's a potential for 12 players across both teams to make their club debuts on Friday night.

Former NRL player Solomone Kata will start on the Brumbies wing, while Harry Lloyd, Carderyn Neville, Will Miller and Bayley Kuenzle are also set to debut off the bench.

Reds winger Henry Speight will start against his former club and Harry Wilson has been named at No.8, while reserves Dane Zander, Seru Uru and Hunter Paisami can also make their first appearances.