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Reds make five changes for Rebels in Melbourne

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Newly appointed Reds co-interim head coaches Nick Stiles and Matt O’Connor have named a team with five changes to play the Rebels in Melbourne.

Two of the five changes are in the front row with loosehead prop Sef Fa’agase and Andrew Ready making their starting debut.

Fa’agase comes into the side to replace Ben Daley, who has shifted to the replacements , while Ready slots in for Saia Fainga’a who will miss this weekend due to a foot injury.

Fainga’a’s absence also means Brisbane City hooker Matt Mafi has the potential to make his Queensland and Super Rugby debut from the replacements.

The other change to the forward pack sees Brisbane City flanker Waita Setu called into the starting side for the first time, after making his debut last weekend, with Curtis Browning moved to the replacements .

Stiles said: “The selection panel decided to make a few changes, first and foremost because we haven’t been getting the results we’ve all been working for.

“Sef (Fa’agase) has been coming on and doing a good job with his ball carries, he’s been explosive in contact and on top of that he’s been scrummaging well. It’s good that we have the depth in the front row that we are able to call on a number of strong set piece players if we need to.

“Andrew (Ready) has had a lot of minutes in the last two games and at no stage has the quality of the set piece dropped. He’s also worked hard on his ball carrying in the off-season and we’re starting to see the fruits of that labour. The added benefit we have with him is he’s quite strong over the ball and we expect the breakdown to be a key element on Saturday.

“Waita (Setu) offers us line speed and a good option at the breakdown. We know the Rebels will provide a strong challenge at the contact area and Waita is a genuine on-baller.

“Matt (Mafi) stands to make his debut following two seasons for Brisbane City in the NRC. He’s excellent at the set-piece elements of the game and has worked hard throughout the pre-season for this opportunity.”

In the backs, Anthony Fainga’a has been called into the starting side at inside centre for his first Super Rugby match since May last year, shifting Karmichael Hunt to starting fullback and Ayumu Goromaru to the replacements .

O’Connor said: “It’s good to see Anthony (Fainga’a) fit and back in the starting side. He has played 83 Super Rugby games and 23 Tests and brings valuable experience to the team.

“Anthony is experienced and abrasive and those are two traits that will benefit us against the Rebels.

“With Karmichael (Hunt), he has demonstrated his best position for the team at the moment is at fullback. Having Ayumu (Goromaru) in the replacements adds experience to the bench and the ability to call on a world-class goal kicker when required.

“The side has worked hard to build from the difficult lessons we learned last week. We will continue to play attacking Rugby and we’re developing that, but with that intention comes a responsibility to look after the ball and that will be crucial against the Rebels.”

Reds

1. Sef Fa’agase (run-on debut) , 2. Andrew Ready (run-on debut) , 3. Greg Holmes , 4. Cadeyrn Neville , 5. Rob Simmons (C) , 6. Hendrik Tui , 7. Waita Setu (run-on debut) , 8. Jake Schatz , 9. Nick Frisby , 10. Jake McIntyre , 11. Eto Nabuli , 12. Anthony Fainga’a , 13. Samu Kerevi , 14. Chris Feauai-Sautia , 15. Karmichael Hunt

Replacements : 16. Matt Mafi (potential Queensland/Super Rugby debut) , 17. Ben Daley , 18. Sam Talakai , 19. Ben Matwijow , 20. Curtis Browning , 21. Scott Gale , 22. Sam Greene , 23. Ayumu Goromaru

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