Reds want Lucas to fill Hunt, Cooper hole
UTILITY back Ben Lucas is to be snapped up for a second stint at the Queensland Reds to help fill the void left by Quade Cooper and Karmichael Hunt.
Adding an old head to the flyhalf and fullback depth is a wise move when the club has leaked so much experience and is short on leadership in key positions.
His appearance last night at Ballymore training, in front of Reds members, was all but confirmation just weeks after finishing up with the Toyota Verblitz club in Japan.
Lucas is now 30 but his brand of rugby will have only been improved by two seasons with French club Montpellier and another two in Japan's Top League.
He still has seven seasons and 74 games of Reds rugby in the blood from 2008-14 to give guidance to six players 22 or younger in the Reds squad.
The Reds first sounded out Lucas last September, well before Cooper found himself on the outer and months before Hunt was charged on two counts of alleged drug possession.
It was a move made before Brad Thorn became coach but the Lucas make-up as a feisty competitor, fierce defender and proud Queenslander will have earnt him a tick.
Being a sharp kicker in general play also improves one of the major shortcomings of the 2017 Reds.
Lucas will have sharpened his game as a backline general in Japan and France because he was largely a valuable sidekick for stars Cooper and Will Genia in his earlier days at the Reds.
Lucas has never lost his passion for the Reds after looking abroad for chances in 2014 when he was unable to reach terms with the former Queensland team management.
Lucas will likely be signed on a one-year deal and could find himself as the Reds' starting fullback with Hunt's future so clouded.
Using Lucas at No.15 would allow Thorn to run with Hamish Stewart at flyhalf beside Duncan Paia'aua and Samu Kerevi as centres.
The arrival of Lucas will add extra audition value to the intra-squad trial at the Reds Fan Day at Ballymore (February 2) and the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens (February 9-10).
Carlos Spencer (Blues), Carl Hayman (Highlanders) and Drew Mitchell (Waratahs) are the start of the appealing wildcards being named for the Tens.
Organisers have listened to fans by revamping the rugby party as a day-night event at Suncorp Stadium to beat the furnace of midday heat at last year's inaugural staging.