Wallabies flyhalf James O’Connor will miss up to six weeks with a knee injury suffered in a clash with Australia teammate Andrew Kellaway, while Jordan Petaia will also miss the Reds’ Super Rugby clash with the Hurricanes on Saturday.
O’Connor suffered LCL (lateral collateral ligament) injury to his knee in the 67th minute of the game against the Rebels when Kellaway charged down his clearing kick and collected his knee in the process.
The Reds report no surgery is required for the man Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has earmarked for the No.10 jersey against England – but it’s still a significant blow for Brad Thorn’s team as the toughest assignments of the season begin. He’s expected to be sidelined for 4-6 weeks.
Petaia, meanwhile, has a low grade hamstring strain suffered in a slip on the AAMI Park turf last week and the Reds are playing it safe considering his history with hamstring issues. He’s only expected to miss one week.
Jock Campbell retuns from injury to wear the No.15 jersey as one of four changes.
Queensland Premier Rugby product Lawson Creighton will make make his Super Rugby starting debut alongside captain Tate McDermott in the halves.
“We’re going to need to bring more than fight,” McDermott said of his side, who have lost just once despite playing inconsistently this year.
“James was in some really good form there; he’ll be a big loss from the experience side of it.
“But it’s a shot for Lawson and I’m proud of how far he’s come.”
Frontrowers Harry Hoopert and Taniela Tupou move back to the starting side from the bench as Queensland look to snap a six-game losing streak against the Hurricanes.
The Super Round features five games plus the women’s Super W grand final, with all games in Melbourne. The Wester Force vs. Moana Pasifika match schedule for Friday night has been postponed due to a Covid outbreak within the Aussie team.
Brumbies lock Cadeyrn Neville is set to make his first appearance since round one against the Highlanders while flyhalf Noah Lolesio is fully fit to return having not been risked for the Brumbies bonus-point victory against the Fijian Drua in round eight.
Waratahs Head Coach Darren Coleman has added two new faces to his starting 15 while making one positional change to the team that ran out 41-24 winners over the Western Force in Perth.
The forward pack remains unchanged from last week, marking the first time this season the Waratahs have named the same forward pack in consecutive matches.
Jamie Roberts and Will Harrison are the two new faces in the starting backline this week. Tane Edmed keeps his place at No.10 with Ben Donaldson back on the bench.
Harrison has been named at fullback after making a successful return from a hamstring injury last week off the bench. Alex Newsome, fresh off a double last week against the Force, reverts to the wing while Dylan Pietsch moves to the bench.
97 Test Welsh and British and Irish Lions centre Jamie Roberts makes his second start of the season in place of Lalakai Foketi who will miss the clash to attend a family funeral.
Coleman was supportive of his Wallaby centre taking time off to be with his family.
“It’s obviously disappointing to lose Lalakai, but it’s really important he attends his grandfather’s funeral. Family is very important to us here at the Waratahs and our thoughts are with Lalakai and his family,” Coleman said.
Chiefs (1-15) : Aidan Ross, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Angus Ta’avao, Josh Lord, Tupou Vaa’i, Luke Jacobson, Sam Cane (c), Pita Gus Sowakula, Cortez Ratima, Bryn Gatland, Quinn Tupaea, Rameka Pohipi, Alex Nankivell, Jonah Lowe, Chase Tiatia.
Reserves: Bradley Slater, Ollie Norris, George Dyer, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Samipeni Finau, Xavier Roe Rivez Reihana, Inga Finau.
Waratahs (1-15): Angus Bell, Dave Porecki, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Jed Holloway, Hugh Sinclair, Charlie Gamble, Michael Hooper, Will Harris, Jake Gordon (c), Tane Edmed, Alex Newsome, Jamie Roberts, Izaia Perese, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Will Harrison
Reserves: Tom Horton, Tetera Faulkner, Archer Holz, Geoff Cridge, Rahboni Warren-Yosayaco, Jack Grant, Ben Donaldson, Dylan Pietsch.
Fijian Drua (1-15): Meli Tuni, Mesulame Dolokoto, Manasa Saulo, Chris Minimbi, Viliame Rarasea, Meli Derenalagi (c), Rusiate Nasove, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Peni Matawalu, Simione Kuruvoli, Onisi Ratave, Caleb Muntz, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Tuidraki Samusamuvodre, Kitione Taliga.
Reserves: Zuriel Togiatama, Timoci Sauvoli, Jone Koroiduadua, Isoa Nasilasila, Joseva Tamani, Leone Nawai, Jona Mataiciwa, Frank Lomani.
Hurricanes (1-15): Pouri Rakete-Stones, Kianu Kereru-Symes, Tyrel Lomax, James Blackwell, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Reed Prinsep, Blake Gibson, Ardie Savea (c), TJ Perenara, Aidan Morgan, Wes Goosen, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Bailyn Sullivan, Julian Savea, Jordie Barrett.
Reserves: Leni Apisai, Xavier Numia, Tevita Mafileo, Justin Sangster, TK Howden, Jamie Booth, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Billy Proctor.
Reds (1-15): Harry Hoopert, Richie Asiata, Taniela Tupou, Ryan Smith, Angus Blyth, Connor Vest, Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott (c), Lawson Creighton, Filipo Daugunu, Hamish Stewart, Hunter Paisami, Suliasi Vunivalu, Jock Campbell.
Reserves: Matt Faessler, Dane Zander, Feao Fotuaika, Lopeti Faifua, Angus Scott-Young, Kalani Thomas, Josh Flook, Mac Grealy.
Highlanders (1-15): Ethan de Groot, Liam Coltman, Jermaine Ainsley, Bryn Evans, Sam Caird, Hugh Renton, James Lentjes, Gareth Evans, Folau Fakatava, Marty Banks, Mosese Dawai, Scott Gregory, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Freedom Vahakolo, Mitch Hunt.
Reserves: Andrew Makailo, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Josh Johneck, Max Hicks, Billy Harmon, Kayne Hemmington, Sam Gilbert, Christian Lio Willie.
Brumbies (1-15): Scott Sio, Lachlan Lonergan, Sefo Kautai, Darcy Swain, Caderyn Neville, Rob Valetini, Jahrome Brown, Pete Samu, Nic White (c), Noah Lolesio, Andy Muirhead, Irae Simone, Len Ikitau, Cam Clark, Tom Wright.
Reserves: Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper, Tom Ross, Tom Hooper, Luke Reimer, Ryan Lonergan, Rod Iona, Hudson Creighton.
Crusaders (1-15): George Bower, Codie Taylor (c), Olie Jager, Zach Gallagher, Sam Whitelock, Pablo Matera, Ethan Blackadder, Cullen Grace, Mitch Drummond, Richie Mo’unga, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Jack Goodhue, Braydon Ennor, Sevu Reece, George Bridge.
Reserves: Ricky Jackson, Tamaiti Williams, Fletcher Newell, Dominic Gardiner, Corey Kellow, Bryn Hall, Fergus Burke, Chay Fihaki.
Rebels (1-15): Cameron Orr, James Hanson, Cabous Eloff, Matt Philip, Josh Hill, Rob Leota, Brad Wilkin, Michael Wells (c), James Tuttle, Matt To’omua, Glen Vaihu, Stacey Ili, Andrew Kellaway, George Worth, Reece Hodge.
Reserves: Efi Ma’afu, Matt Gibbon, Rhys Van Nek, Josh Canham, Tamati Ioane, Sam Wallis, Joe Powell, Carter Gordon.