Have Reds made Wright captaincy choice?
ROOKIE Wallaby Liam Wright has trumped Izack Rodda as the captaincy choice for the Queensland Reds as they begin a defining Super Rugby campaign.
Coach Brad Thorn has previously called the backrow an ideal position from which to lead based on his own experiences playing beside the inspirational Richie McCaw in Crusaders and All Blacks sides.
That may just be a contributing factor on top of the package of composure and leadership "form" under Thorn that seems to have tipped this close tussle for the captaincy Wright's way.
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Lock Rodda has been the frontrunner to be Queensland's next captain ever since stepping up in a one-off role as Reds skipper last May when regular captain Samu Kerevi had a game off before he signed to play in Japan.
Thorn has instead gone with Wright, who played all but 12 minutes of last year's Super Rugby campaign for the Reds.
Flanker Wright was also a starter in the pack that night against the Chiefs so some deeper assessments of the two top forwards as captaincy material look to have been made since.
Both have careers on the rise. Even at just 23, Rodda is now a senior Wallaby lock with 25 Tests behind him.
Are the Reds making the Wright choice?
Significantly, Wright, 22, has been blooded for the Wallabies since the last Super Rugby season with outings against New Zealand and Samoa before the World Cup squad departed for Japan.
He will also be able to make a stamp on the season from the opening whistle in the pre-season trials against the Melbourne Rebels in Gladstone (January 17) and NSW Waratahs in Dalby (January 24).
Rodda's post-World Cup ankle surgery might yet keep him out of the season-opener against the Brumbies in Canberra on January 31.
If the new Reds captain is to be Wright, he does have experience with Thorn on his side.
He lead the Queensland Under-20s in 2017 under Thorn, who was also the coach who gave him the leadership reins, at just 19, for one game with Queensland Country in the National Rugby Championship later that year.
As a backrow captain of Queensland, Wright follows in some of the biggest footsteps in the state's long rugby history.
Tony Shaw, Mark Loane, David Wilson and Dalla O'Neill are just some of the outstanding backrow captains of past Queensland sides.
The excellent Reds sides of the late 1990s had three Wallabies captains (John Eales, Dave Wilson and Tim Horan) in the ranks.
Rather than raising any eyebrows at a choice between Rodda and Wright as state captain, the better question is how both will strongly lead the Reds to far better than the mediocre 6-10 win-loss seasons of 2018 and 2019.
Making the play-offs is the only pass mark for this season. The Reds have a burly, settled pack, high-impact young backs in Jordan Petaia and Tate McDermott and the lack of an experienced flyhalf is the one real question mark.
Wright will be kept on his toes all season because young gun Fraser McReight, 20, will be bidding for minutes at openside flanker after his fine 2019 as Australia's dynamic Under-20s captain.