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Reds make two changes for Highlanders

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Queensland Reds Super Rugby head coach Brad Thorn has named a team with two changes for this Saturday’s match against his former team the Highlanders.

After last week’s loss to the Hurricanes Thorn has included 19-year-old lock Harry Hockings for run-on debut while Izaia Perese returning to the wing.

The match will be Hockings’ ninth in Super Rugby, after making his debut in Round 3. He has been named to start ahead of Kane Douglas, who has moved to the bench.

Perese is back in the starting side for the first time since Round 10 and takes the place of first-year flyer Filipo Daugunu, who has dropped out of the match-day 23.

The Reds have opted for a six-two split on the bench, allowing the return of flanker Caleb Timu, who has recovered from an ankle injury suffered in Queensland’s Round 11 win over the Lions.

Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “We’ve kept a pretty similar side to last week.

“Kane (Douglas) had a good game last week and he has been in strong form, but we felt the time was right to give Harry (Hockings) an opportunity to start. He has been making great strides in his development and this is the next step for him. Kane will provide good impact off the bench.

“Izaia (Perese) has been working hard to get back to the form he showed us in the pre-season, before his knee injury. He has had some chances off the bench and now he gets another crack in the starting side.

“It’s good to see Caleb (Timu) return from injury too. He was in damaging form before that setback and hopefully he will bounce back quickly.

“It’s another tough challenge this weekend. The Highlanders are a good side and they’ll be hurting.

“We have shown we can be competitive. Now we need to take it to the next level.

“The guys are pumped to be back at home this weekend. We haven’t played in front of the Queensland faithful in four weeks and the last time we were there was a pretty special win over the Lions. We’re hoping to replicate that great atmosphere on Saturday.”

Queensland Reds

1. JP Smith , 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3. Taniela Tupou , 4. Izack Rodda, 5. Harry Hockings , 6. Angus Scott-Young , 7. George Smith , 8. Scott Higginbotham (C) , 9. Ben Lucas , 10. Jono Lance, 11. Jordan Petaia, 12. Duncan Paia’aua , 13. Samu Kerevi , 14. Izaia Perese , 15. Hamish Stewart

Replacements : 16. Andrew Ready, 17. Sef Fa’agase , 18. Ruan Smith , 19. Kane Douglas , 20. Caleb Timu, 21. Liam Wright, 22. Moses Sorovi , 23. Aidan Toua

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