Reds secure two Wallabies in waiting to new deals, Chiefs coach praises rival’s ‘unsung hero’


The Queensland Reds have received a boost ahead of their Super Rugby quarterfinal against the Chiefs with two potential 2024 Wallabies debutants signing new deals.

Lock Ryan Smith and centre Josh Flook, who both reached 50 caps for the club this season, have recommitted to play under Les Kiss in 2025.

The pair, prodcuts of the Brothers club in Brisbane, have played for Australia A and their form has catapulted them into Wallabies considerations for this season.

“Both Josh and Ryan are 50-cappers. It’s fantastic news they have re-committed to Queensland,” Kiss said.

“The qualities we see in ’Flooky’ come through on and off the field. He has excellent timing in attack and defence and it’s obvious how much the Reds jersey means to him in every match he plays.

“’Ryano’ has put in such a shift for us this season. He’s been impressive in the tight and he’s a well-liked character in the locker room where he leads the team song in fabulous fashion.

Josh Flook. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

“Both have certainly put themselves in the eyes of the selectors for higher honours.”

Flook was called out by Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan as one of several Reds to be wary of for his team on Friday night.

McMillan was involved in a joint press conference with Kiss on Monday and was asked about the Reds’ most threatening players.

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“Where do you start? Obviously, we’re pretty happy to see Harry Wilson not there, like the big man carrying through the middle of the park,” said McMillan.

“He’s done a bit of damage to us over the last few years, but as is always the case, when one man falls over, another man steps up in his place. So, we’ve been impressed with a number of their side. Obviously, [Fraser] McReight, he’s hard on the ball.

“He’s active in the game. Great link man, just a real workhorse. So, we’ve got to have our eyes peeled for him and make sure that he doesn’t have the influence that I’m sure Les and the Reds would love him to have.

“Tate McDermott, awesome halfback, really an admirer of his game. I think he’s really influential in how they play through a kicking threat to a running threat, but also probably one of the unsung heroes is someone like Flook in the midfield. He’s an awesome defender.

“There’s a lot of speed in the Reds’ back line, so a tough nut to break down when you think you’ve created an opportunity, they’re very quick to shut it down. So, it’s threats all across the park and we respect them just as much as they respect us.”

Ryan Smith. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Flook, 22, said of his new deal: “I’m excited to stay here for another year. It is a no-brainer.

“It’s a really good environment and the fresh faces in this season have made a difference.

“There are very good vibes around this quarter-final. Part of that is everyone buying into what we are doing and our game style over the past few months.

“Les and the coaches talk a lot about being useful and staying that way for the team throughout a game.”

Smith, 27, has played all 14 games this season – and has more minutes than any other tight forward in the five Australian teams.

“I’m really excited about what’s ahead,” Smith said.

“My family is in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast so the call to stay with the Reds was pretty easy at the end of the day.

“The team has done some pretty cool stuff in a short time and what we are learning under the new coaches is a big part of that.

“I definitely feel like I’ve advanced my game around the physicality, being far more consistent and lowering the number of penalties I give away.”

“I never played schoolboy rep stuff so I’m proud to show you can get picked from the club system because there are a lot of guys out there every weekend doing their best.

“Some of my friends for life are from club footy at Brothers.”

Kiss, meanwhile, reflected on the challenge of having to win away against the Chiefs to keep their season alive.

Having finished fifth they won’t be back at Suncorp this season.

“It’s two evenly matched teams, but I think it’s the home advantage that we’ve got to navigate more than anything,” Kiss said.

“Getting that home advantage is a massive thing in finals footy, particularly with this Super Rugby Pacific game. The travel, you’ve got to factor that into your load every week.

“Plus you land in Auckland, you’ve got a bus trip for two and a half hours. It does make it difficult. But I’m also a bit of an optimist, a realist and an optimist at the same time.

“Things are possible, but we’re going to have to be our best, aren’t we?”

Kiss was coy on the chances of Wallaby winger Suli Vunivalu returning to the fold for the match. He was suspended for double trips against Fijian Drua then left out of the final round match despite being available.

“Everyone digs in each week to make the 15 work and the 23 work,” said Kiss. “So, he’ll have his role to play, whether he’s in the starting team or on the bench or not, and he’s committed to that. He’s a good man.

“He’s a good operator (and) he’s committed to the cause, that’s for sure.”

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