Queensland Reds winger Izaia Perese has been named for his first Super Rugby appearance of the year but a host of other injuries has prompted a host of other changes for Saturday night’s showdown with the NSW Waratahs.
After going down with a knee injury in pre-season, Perese is a welcome inclusion on the wing for the Reds.
But they’ve also lost skipper Scott Higginbotham (calf), prop Taniela Tupou (shoulder) and halfback Ben Lucas (concussion) for the SCG clash.
James Slipper will take over the captaincy in Higginbotham’s absence and will be joined in the front-row by South African-born prop Ruan Smith, who makes his run-on debut.
Meanwhile, Caleb Timu will shift to No.8 to cover for Higginbotham with Lukhan Tui to start and blindside flanker and Liam Wright recalled at openside, replacing Adam Korczyk.
“While we’ve lost some guys through injury, we’re also welcoming one back with Izaia starting for the first time this year,” coach Brad Thorn said.
“He’s been cracking in at training, waiting for his chance to get back on the field.
“He’s a guy who offers a bit of strike in attack, so it’s good to have him back.
“We’ve been working hard to develop depth within the squad so that we can cope with these setbacks when they occur. It’s a chance for other players to step up.”
The Reds have made a further four changes on the bench, with Korczyk demoted and prop Sef Fa’agase, flanker Angus Scott-Young and halfback Tate McDermott all back in the squad for the first time since round six.
The two sides haven’t met at the SCG since 1983 and both sides will wear throwback jerseys to mark the occasion, with the Reds set to don the maroon, as they did at home to the Waratahs last season.
Queensland Reds: Aidan Toua, Filipo Daugunu, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi, Izaia Perese, Jono Lance, James Tuttle, Caleb Timu, Liam Wright, Lukhan Tui, Kane Douglas, Izack Rodda, Ruan Smith, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, James Slipper (capt). Reserves: Alex Mafi, JP Smith, Sef Fa’agase, Adam Korczyk, Angus Scott-Young, Tate McDermott, Hamish Stewart, Jordan Petaia.