Mark McLinden is likely to start Queensland's next match against StormersCODE-crosser Mark McLinden is well accustomed to filling big boots and he's primed to get his chance for Queensland on Saturday (EDT).
The former Canberra Raiders NRL playmaker is poised to secure his first Super 14 rugby starting role at fullback against the Stormers after producing a fine cameo off the bench on debut in Pretoria.
McLinden came to the Reds from league club London Harlequins earmarked to take over Chris Latham's No.15 jersey but struggled to find his feet in the trials.
The nippy back, who took over from the likes of Ricky Stuart and Laurie Daley when he cut his teeth at the Raiders a decade ago, now seems ready to roll at full-back, allowing Peter Hynes to move back to his preferred position on the wing.
McLinden hardly put a foot wrong in his 25 minutes on Loftus Versfeld on the weekend as the inexperienced Reds battled gamely before falling 33-20 to the Bulls.
The 29-year-old made a break with his first touch of the ball, looked assured under pressure and also defused a threatening situation by expertly cleaning up a Bulls kick through with lightning quick Bryan Habana bearing down.
"I thought he showed some really promising signs," said Reds coach Phil Mooney.
"I thought he was threatening when he had the ball and that was great work by him when Habana was screaming down on him and he dived on that loose ball.
"I think importantly he's derived a lot of confidence from it and we're looking at changing the composition of the back three."
It isn't the only area Mooney is considering a change for the round two match in Cape Town with Ben Lucas in danger of being dumped to the bench following Will Genia's starring second-half performance.
Genia, the form No.9 during the trials, set up a superb 55m try to Digby Ioane with a neat flick pass and added spark as the Reds clawed their way back from 18-6 down.
Lucas's goalkicking skills had helped him take the role for the season-opener but the duties could now be handed to captain Berrick Barnes or five-eighth Quade Cooper.
"Benny is just struggling a little bit with a lack of zip," Mooney said.
"Realistically, this time last year he was just an academy player so he's still coming to grips with the requirements and travel of the Super 14."
Hard-working Sydney recruit Laurie Weeks is also pressuring tight-head prop Dayna Edwards after making an impact off the bench.
Seasoned centre Morgan Turinui (shoulder) won't be considered when the Reds name their team on Tuesday after failing to prove his fitness. http://www.foxsports.com.au/story/0,8659,25062496-5002381,00.html