Former Gunnedah Red Devil, Harry Wilson was a bright spark in the Queensland Reds’ 23-5 win over the Melbourne Rebels at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

Performing in both attack and defence, the 22-year-old picked up man of the match honours, gaining praise from rugby legends Michael Cheika and Andrew Mehrtens in a post-match panel on Stan 

Cheika coached the Wallabies from 2014-19 and was a 2014 Super Rugby winning coach with the Waratahs.

“I really like him as a player, I think he’s great in command between forwards and backs,” Cheika said.

Mehrtens, a former All-Black and Crusaders’ fly-half joined in on the praise.

“I think the Wallabies see him as a key long-term Wallaby and I think the managing of a guy like that starts from now,” Mehrtens said.

“He’s got natural talent, he weighed on games really heavily as soon as he started in international rugby. 

“Now he’s bringing the other abilities that he has like dexterity and just the speed and acceleration going through the gaps and providing some real punch, he’s a good reader of the game as well.”

While the Reds were not at their title-winning best as the side battled tough weather conditions, Wilson spoke to the Gunnedah Times about the importance of starting the season on the right foot.

“We were pretty stoked with the win but I think we left a fair few points out there,” Wilson said.

“We had a few errors in the wet, but that type of result in round one – it’s a pretty good feeling and the best way for us to start.”

Despite being awarded man of the match, Wilson said “it was just a bonus”.

He added: “You don’t go out there and try to win that. You play to win with the team but of course, I’m happy with the award.”

After a long-term approach taken by Wallabies head coach David Rennie to leave Wilson off the side’s European spring tour, Wilson said he was keen to make a return to the competitive playing field.

“I think my last game before the trials was six months ago so I was pretty excited to get out there and play,” Wilson said.

“I could see all the boys were the same as well.”

At half-time, the Reds held a narrow 13-5 lead and shortly after the resumption of play Wilson crossed the line in the 49th minute.

It was a remarkable turn of events as Wilson gathered a pass on the Rebels’ try-line and after being brought to the ground by three defenders, he was able to reach out and ground the ball.

“I wasn’t too sure if I scored it there,” Wilson said.

“I thought it might’ve been short but with the penalty advantage, I thought I could’ve risked it by putting my hand out there. I was pretty lucky I got my hand over the line, to be 

A try by Jock Campbell in the 80th minute sealed the win for the Reds as they turn their attention to the NSW Waratahs at Leichardt Oval tomorrow night.

Although 2021 was a difficult year for the Waratahs with the side losing each of its eight games in the Super Rugby Australia competition, the club has had a major rebuild in the off-season and is looking to make a considerable improvement.

“It will be really exciting, they’ve obviously had some good trial games and a round one victory,” Wilson said.

“They’re a good, big physical team so we will have to be up for it.”

The game starts at 7:45pm in the Reds’ first away trip of the season as both teams head into round two with one win each.

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