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Reds make six changes for Southern Kings

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Reds head coach Nick Stiles has named a team with six changes to the starting line up to play the Southern Kings in their first ever meeting of the sides.

The match will see the return of key players Quade Cooper and Karmichael Hunt.

Cooper has returned from a three-week suspension due to a high tackle and resumes the role of starting flyhalf, while Hunt has recovered from a concussion suffered two weeks ago to start at fullback.

The only other change to the backline is the promotion of Izaia Perese to starting wing, with Chris Kuridrani shifted to the bench. In the forwards, hooker Alex Mafi has earned his first start in Super Rugby after making his debut for Queensland off the bench last weekend.

Andrew Ready returns to the side in the reserves, with Stephen Moore left out of the match-day 23. Centre Samu Kerevi will captain the side in Moore’s absence.

Lock Lukhan Tui has earned his first start of the 2017 season, in place of Kane Douglas, who is on the bench. The other change to the forward pack sees Japanese Test player Hendrik Tui return to starting blindside flanker, with Adam Korczyk moved to the reserves.

Nick Frisby has also returned to the match-day 23 as reserve scrumhalf. This weekend’s match will also feature a significant milestone for veteran flanker George Smith, who becomes just the seventh player in the history of the competition and only the third Australian player to reach 150 Super Rugby caps.

Stiles said: “It’s great to welcome Quade and Karmichael back into the starting side. They’re both experienced leaders and are desperate to help guide the team to a win this weekend.

“It’s also a significant match for George. He’s been a great influence since joining the team, is one of the greatest players Australia has ever produced, and it would be nice to celebrate his milestone with a win. “

One of the strengths of this squad is its depth and we’re continuing to test that and develop experience within the younger players. As we’ve done with other players, we felt it was necessary to manage Stephen’s workload throughout the year, which is why he’s not taking part in this match.

“This is an important game for us. We’re back at our home ground and the team is keen to bounce back from a disappointing performance last weekend.”

Queensland Reds

1. Sef Fa’agase , 2. Alex Mafi,(run-on debut) 3. Sam Talakai, 4. Rob Simmons , 5. Lukhan Tui , 6. Hendrik Tui , 7. George Smith ,(150th Super Rugby cap) 8. Scott Higginbotham , 9. James Tuttle, 10. Quade Cooper , 11. Eto Nabuli , 12. Duncan Paia’aua , 13. Samu Kerevi (C) , 14. Izaia Perese, 15. Karmichael Hunt

Replacements : 16. Andrew Ready , 17. Kirwan Sanday, 18. Taniela Tupou , 19. Kane Douglas , 20. Adam Korczyk , 21. Nick Frisby, 22. Hamish Stewart , 23. Chris Kuridrani,

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