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Harris gets his chance to show Deans as SBW awaits


Chris Barclay

He sees red … Queensland's Mike Harris tries to elude David Pocock of the Western Force. Harris marks Sonny Bill ...

He sees red … Queensland's Mike Harris tries to elude David Pocock of the Western Force. Harris marks Sonny Bill Williams in the centres as the Reds host the table-topping Chiefs at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium tomorrow. Photo: Getty Images

MIKE HARRIS finally gets an opportunity to confront the Sonny Bill Williams phenomenon head on as the Wallabies hopeful from North Harbour continues auditioning for an inside-back berth for the June internationals by marking up against one of New Zealand's finest.

Since returning from a hamstring injury against the Stormers on April 20, the 23-year-old utility has confronted Ma'a Nonu and Daniel Carter in successive rounds - and Williams looms as the Super Rugby-leading Chiefs take on the defending champions at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow.

Harris missed the regular-season win over the Crusaders in Brisbane last year and was still in rehab when the Queensland Reds beat Richie McCaw's men in the title decider.

''It's pretty exciting for me, it's a challenge I'm looking forward to,'' said Harris, who will try and form a midfield blockade with outside-centre Anthony Faingaa, another key player back to full fitness.

Ewen McKenzie's back line successfully shut down the Crusaders' dynamic duo of Williams and Robbie Fruean last year - then-fullback Ben Lucas, defending at No.10 for Quade Cooper, set the tone on May 29 when he cut the All Blacks star down the first time he carried the ball.

Ben Tapuai, now sidelined with a broken collarbone, and Faingaa also cramped the Crusaders' style that night and again in the final.

And Harris hopes history repeats when he and Faingaa seek to replicate the defensive effort that helped keep the Crusaders tryless in Christchurch for the first time since 2000 last weekend.

There is no coincidence that the Reds' defensive system has been upgraded by the return of Faingaa, who started last weekend for the first time since round one, while goalkicker Harris has always been regarded as a reliable tackler.

''Anthony and myself have a good combination. We pride ourselves on shutting down those types of players,'' said Harris, referring to the obstacles posed by Williams and centre partner Richard Kahui.

Williams looms large over any opposition but Harris, who crossed the Tasman last year after being consistently overlooked by the Blues, and his teammates said it would be folly to neglect the threats posed by Kahui, Aaron Cruden and wing Lelia Masaga.

''Cruden's their playmaker. He's the one that controls the game and pulls the strings,'' said Reds and Wallabies halfback Will Genia.

''There was a big deal made about Sonny when we played the Crusaders last year but all you have to do is tackle low and make sure you do your best to stop the offload, and I guess you nullify that threat.''

If Harris, who is eligible for the Wallabies through an Australian-born grandmother, can follow those instructions his prospects of being involved in the season-opening Test against Scotland on June 5 will be enhanced. ''I was hearing positive things last year, so hopefully I can have three really good games [before Scotland],'' he said.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans will rely heavily on Reds and Western Force players for the one-off Test because they have a bye before Super Rugby takes a break.

There is also only a four-day turnaround before the opening match of a three-Test series against Wales, where the top team will be picked.

Meanwhile, the Reds welcome back loose-head prop Ben Daley and openside breakaway Beau Robinson, who is on the bench, after the pair missed the trip to Christchurch with minor hamstring and leg injuries. Greg Holmes drops to the reserves, while back-up prop Albert Anae and Wallabies No.8 Radike Samo revert to club rugby.

Otherwise, McKenzie has named a settled squad, a reason he is confident they can climb the overall ladder from ninth.

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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