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Reds confident of keeping star Petaia

Marco Monteverde -

The Reds are confident of retaining Jordan Petaia despite reported interest in the Wallabies star from NRL club St George Illawarra and French and Japanese rugby outfits.

Petaia., who is expected to return from a head knock on Friday night when Queensland meets the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park, is off contract with the Reds and Rugby Australia at end of the year.

The 24-year-old excitement machine, who can play as a fullback, winger and centre, is hot property, with the Dragons reportedly having opened talks with Petaia’s management.

However, Reds coach Les Kiss believes Queensland and Wallabies have enough to offer him – including next year’s British and Irish Lions tour of Australia – to convince him to remain with his current employers.

“Jordy is important to us,” Kiss said on Tuesday as he explained why Petaia should reject outside offers.

“We’ve got a Lions series coming up. Not only do we (the Reds) play them, but the Wallabies play them. That’s a real big attraction for anyone of Jordy’s age and profile to stay engaged.

“He’s had two World Cups already, he’ll definitely be a third ‘World Cupper’.

“We (the Reds) have got a Wales game coming up. If he’s around he’ll play in that, (or) he might be with the Wallabies playing them.

“We’re trying to create programs here that people are engaged in and want to stay in.

“We feel pretty comfortable with what we’re offering here, not only from the Reds’ perspective, but also with what Rugby Australia has with what they call this ‘golden runway’. He (Petaia) is ripe to be able to be prominent in those.

“There’s going to be talk. He’s going to create interest for sure, and their agents will always try to pump those things up, no problem, but he’s important to us and we’d be willing to keep him, that’s for sure.”

Reds star Jordan Petaia has attracted interest from NRL clubs. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Reds star Jordan Petaia has attracted interest from NRL clubs. (Image: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Petaia may not be the only Queensland backline star to return on Friday night, with bustling centre Hunter Paisami close to being deemed available for selection after he also missed last Saturday’s 25-19 win over the Chiefs due to concussion protocols.

However, Kiss has a pleasant selection headache such was the form of inside centre Isaac Henry against the Chiefs.

“I want to make sure that I keep the right combinations going, and form is important at the right time,” the Reds mentor said.

“You can’t ask players to play every minute of every game, and every minute of every training session. We’re still trying to get those things right here.”

Star flyhalf James O’Connor is edging closer to being available for selection as his recovery from a hamstring injury gathers steam.

“He’s doing everything he can to be physically right. By the end of next week we’ll be able to pinpoint where he will be,” Kiss said.

Marco Monteverde - NCA NewsWire

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