Strike weapon Digby Ioane is one of five Queensland Reds players ruled out Friday’s Super Rugby clash with the Highlanders due to injuries suffered in the weekend win over the Bulls.
The Reds will field a new wing pairing of Luke Morahan and Dom Shipperley in Dunedin in the absence of Ioane (knee) and Chris Feauai-Sautia (thigh strain) who are both expected to be fit after next week’s bye.
They will also be without hooker Saia Faingaa (neck joint inflammation), reserve halfback Nick Frisby (ankle) and utility reserve Mike Harris (hand).
Off-setting those losses is the return of gun openside breakaway Liam Gill, who missed the home clash with the Bulls with a minor knee injury.
The other change to the Reds’ starting line-up sees Rob Simmons reunited with Wallabies captain James Horwill in the second row, the first time the duo will start a match together since May 26 last year.
There are four new faces on the bench with Ben Daley, scrumhalf Ben Lucas and backs Aidan Toua and Rod Davies coming into the matchday squad.
Coach Ewen McKenzie will this week become the most capped coach in Super Rugby history as he breaks the record he shares with Wallabies and former Crusaders mentor Robbie Deans with 120 games (66 with the NSW Waratahs from 2003-08, 54 with the Reds from 2010).
However, it will be another record McKenzie has his sights set upon on Friday with the Reds chasing their first-ever victory in Dunedin in the professional era.
While the Reds have a strong record against the Highlanders in Queensland, winning seven of their nine games played, they are yet to topple the Highlanders on New Zealand soil.
Queensland Reds: Jono Lance, Dom Shipperley, Anthony Faingaa, Ben Tapuai, Luke Morahan, Quade Cooper,Will Genia, Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Eddie Quirk, James Horwill (capt), Rob Simmons, James Slipper, James Hanson, Greg Holmes. Res: Albert Anae, Ben Daley, Ed O’Donoghue, Jarrad Butler, Ben Lucas, Aidan Toua, Rod Davies.