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Reds name strong team to play Sharks

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Queensland Super Rugby franchise the Reds have announced their team for the season opening match against the Sharks at Suncorp Stadium on Friday.

Veteran Test flanker George Smith is in line to become Queensland Representative Number 1307 after being named to make his Reds debut in the Number 7 jersey.

While the match will be Smith’s first for Queensland, he is no stranger to Super Rugby, having already tallied an impressive 142 caps in the competition.

Friday’s match will also signal a return to Suncorp Stadium in Reds colours for Stephen Moore, Scott Higginbotham and Quade Cooper, who have all been named in the starting side.

While Smith is the only ‘debutant’ in the Reds’ starting side, Markus Vanzati, Izack Rodda and Izaia Perese are in line to make their Reds and Super Rugby debuts after being named as reserves.

Reds head coach Nick Stiles said his first side for the 2017 season reflected not only the depth of the squad, but the fierce competition for spots.

“It’s pretty exciting to think in two days we’ll be back playing at Suncorp Stadium in front of our home fans,” Stiles said.

“We’ve all had this date circled in our calendars for a long time and the players and staff have worked incredibly hard to get to this point in the best possible position.

“Anyone who watched how we performed in the tens and our trial against the Rebels would know there is a lot of competition for spots in this squad.

“We’ve got a lot of seasoned campaigners, but there are also some young up-and-coming players who have earned an opportunity through their hard work and their form in pre-season.

“Now the challenge is there for us to put everything we’ve worked on into practice against the Sharks on Friday night.”

Queensland Reds

1. James Slipper ©, 2. Stephen Moore ,3. Sam Talakai,4. Rob Simmons ,5. Kane Douglas ,6. Adam Korczyk ,7. George Smith (Queensland debut), 8. Scott Higginbotham ,9. Nick Frisby ,10. Quade Cooper ,11. Eto Nabuli ,12. Duncan Paia’aua ,13. Samu Kerevi,14. Chris Kuridrani ,15. Karmichael Hunt

Replacements :16. Andrew Ready ,17. Markus Vanzati (Potential Queensland/Super Rugby debut), 18. Sef Fa’agase ,19. Izack Rodda (Potential Queensland/Super Rugby debut) , 20. Hendrik Tui ,21. James Tuttle ,22. Jake McIntyre ,23. Izaia Perese (Potential Queensland/Super Rugby debut) ,

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