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Baptism of fire awaits convert Chambers

17/12/2009 07:50:53 PM Comments (0)

A baptism of fire awaits rugby-convert Will Chambers after new Queensland coach Ewen McKenzie confirmed the ex-Melbourne Storm flyer would feature in their first trial next month - against the Reds' bitter rival NSW.

In a welcome hit out ahead of their season opener against the Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium in February, the Reds announced on Thursday that they would lock horns with NSW at a Lismore trial on January 23.

While the trial will match McKenzie against the club he coached from 2004-08 for the first time, attention will also focus on Chambers who has made the unusual transition from an NRL premiership side to Super 14 battlers in the off-season.

Chambers and fellow new face - former France-based flanker Lei Tomiki - will feature in the trial, according to McKenzie.

"There is a bit of a way to go before February 13 but we'll be keen to get both Lei and Will involved early in the year, especially to see how Will is handling the switch in codes," said McKenzie who added that he had been pleased with Chambers' early progress.

"This will be a dress rehearsal for the big one (season opener).

"Every player who takes the field for us in Lismore will be auditioning for a spot in the squad for the big Suncorp match three weeks later.

"The coaching staff are new to the Reds this year and we will be looking for players who are keen to make the most of this opportunity."

McKenzie warned competition for spots would be tough, particularly in the forwards.

After recovering from neck and shoulder problems, ex-Wallaby loosehead prop Greg Holmes will be out to give a not so subtle reminder that he is back.

"Greg will be looking to remind the younger guys that he's around, which is the sort of competition for places that were after," said McKenzie.

"Similarly, Morgan Turinui is back after the shoulder operation that kept him out for all of 2009 and he's also keen to stake a claim on a backline spot where there'll be a lot of competition."

McKenzie looked forward to the progress of rookie winger Luke Morahan and young half Richard Kingi after they were Wallabies UK tour squad selections.

"It was great to see (Wallabies coach) Robbie Deans give Luke that chance, as it was with the selection of young half Richard Kingi in the tour squad, even though both didn't get that much actual game time on tour," McKenzie said.

"But it would have done both of them the world of good to be exposed to the Wallaby systems and training, and they should be better players for that in 2010."

The Reds also play pre-season trials against the Crusaders (Ballymore, January 29) and the Western Force (Perth, February 5).

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