The Queensland Reds have been handed a big boost ahead of their top-of-the-table clash against the Brumbies with skipper Liam Wright to make his return from injury this weekend.
Wright had been sidelined since picking up a syndesmosis injury during the Reds’ pre-season warm-up against the Waratahs, and his return will further bolster the undefeated ladder-leaders with the finals fast approaching.
The flanker has been named on the bench in the only change to the side which demolished Melbourne last week, with Angus Scott-Young, Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson remaining as the starting front row for now and James O’Connor retaining the captaincy. Angus Blyth drops out of the side to accommodate Wright’s return, with Seru Uru shifting into the 19 jersey as lock cover.
The Reds’ opponents have also been bolstered at the selection table with the return of their own captain. Allan Alaalatoa is back in the starting front row after serving a three-game suspension, and fellow prop Scott Sio has been added to the bench after some time on the sideline with injury.
Darcy Swain is the Brumbies’ only other inclusion, with Will Miller, who rejoined the squad as an injury replacement player yesterday after retiring last year, not included in the side to face Queensland.
In the early game of the round, the Western Force have made a raft of changes for their trip to face the Rebels. Kieran Longbottom, Jeremy Thrush, Kyle Godwin, Domingo Miotti, Grason Makara, Richard Kahui and Andrew Ready are all back in the side, although coach Tim Sampson will have to trim two names from the squad after naming an extended bench.
Miotti has been given his first crack at the number ten jersey, with fellow flyhalves Jake McIntyre and Jono Lance out of the squad.
Melbourne welcome Lucio Sordoni and Brad Wilkin back into their team among the reserves, but the big selection news for the Rebels comes in the form of a backline reshuffle. Reece Hodge has been moved to fullback so to accommodate former sevens star Lewis Holland in the centres.
Friday, 7:45pm (AEST), AAMI Park
(1-15): Cabous Eloff, James Hanson, Pone Faamausili, Rob Leota, Trevor Hosea, Josh Kemeny, Richard Hardwick, Michael Wells, Joe Powell, Matt To’omua (c), Marika Koroibete, Lewis Holland, Stacey Ili, Frank Lomani, Reece Hodge
Reserves: Jordan Uelese, Matt Gibbon, Lucio Sordoni, Steve Cummins, Brad Wilkin, James Tuttle, Tom Pincus, Jeral Skelton
In: Lucio Sordoni, Brad Wilkin
Out: Albert Anae, Thomas Nowlan
(1-15): Tom Robertson, Feleti Kaitu’u, Santiago Medrano, Jeremy Thrush, Sitaleki Timani, Fergus Lee-Warner, Kane Koteka, Tomas Lezana, Tomas Cubelli, Domingo Miotti, Jordan Olowofela, Kyle Godwin (c), Tevita Kuridrani, Byron Ralston, Jack McGregor.
Reserves: Andrew Ready, Jack Winchester, Angus Wagner, Kieran Longbottom, Ryan McCauley, Tim Anstee, Brynard Stander, Ian Prior, Grason Makara, Richard Kahui (two to omit)
In: Kieran Longbottom, Jeremy Thrush, Kyle Godwin, Domingo Miotti, Grason Makara, Richard Kahui, Andrew Ready
Out: Greg Holmes, Jake McIntyre, Marcel Brache, Henry Taefu, Jono Lance
Saturday, 7:45pm (AEST), Suncorp Stadium
(1-15): Feao Fotuaika, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Taniela Tupou, Ryan Smith, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Angus Scott-Young, Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott, James O’Connor (c), Jock Campbell, Hamish Stewart, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, Bryce Hegarty
Reserves: Alex Mafi, Richie Asiata, Zane Nonggorr, Seru Uru, Liam Wright, Kalani Thomas, Josh Flook, Filipo Daugunu
In: Liam Wright
Out: Angus Blyth
(1-15): James Slipper, Folau Fainga’a, Allan Alaalatoa (c), Darcy Swain, Cadeyrn Neville, Rob Valetini, Tom Cusack, Pete Samu, Nic White, Noah Lolesio, Tom Wright, Irae Simone, Len Ikitau, Andy Muirhead, Tom Banks
Reserves: Lachlan Lonergan, Scott Sio, Sefo Kautai, Nick Frost, James Tucker, Ryan Lonergan, Bayley Kuenzle, Mack Hansen
INs: Allan Alaalatoa, Darcy Swain, Scott Sio
OUTs: Harry Lloyd, Fred Kaihea, Rory Scott