Queensland Reds Super rugby head coach Brad Thorn has named his Super Rugby team to play the Brumbies in Friday’s opening round clash against the Brumbies in Canberra.
Up to five players could make their Queensland debuts with Brothers backrower Harry Wilson named at number-eight and Henry Speight (pictured) selected on the wing against his former club.
Following standout performances in Queensland Premier Rugby that led to selection with Brisbane City in the National Rugby Championship (NRC) last year, Queensland pathway trio Dane Zander, Seru Uru and Hunter Paisami could potentially also make their Queensland debuts after being named on the bench.
The Reds will be bolstered up-front with the return of props JP Smith and Feao Fotuaika from injury, while Izack Rodda will also make his comeback following routine off-season ankle surgery post the Rugby World Cup.
Queensland’s backline remains unchanged from last week’s pre-season win over the Waratahs in Dalby, with Isaac Lucas earning his second Super Rugby start in the number-10 jersey and James O’Connor partnering Jordan Petaia in an exciting centre-pairing combination.
Liam Wright will lead the team in his first Queensland-capped match as captain and will have the support of Rodda, Speight and Bryce Hegarty as part of the Reds leadership group this season.
Thorn said: “We’re excited for the season to start. We have the Brumbies first-up and we look forward to a tough contest.
“Dalby and Gladstone had us for two trial games which were important hit-outs leading into the season.
“Five guys could make their Queensland debuts on Friday night which is an awesome thing to recognize. They’ve worked hard during the pre-season and deserve their selection.”
The Reds travel to South Africa (Lions) and Argentina (Jaguares) in Rounds 2 and 3, before returning home to host the Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday 22 February.
1. JP Smith, 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa , 3. Taniela Tupou , 4. Angus Blyth , 5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto , 6. Angus Scott-Young , 7. Liam Wright ©, 8. Harry Wilson, 9. Tate McDermott, 10. Isaac Lucas, 11. Henry Speight, 12. James O’Connor, 13. Jordan Petaia, 14. Jock Campbell , 15. Bryce Hegarty
Replacements : 16. Alex Mafi , 17. Dane Zander, 18. Feao Fotuaika, 19. Izack Rodda , 20. Seru Uru, 21. Moses Sorovi , 22. Hamish Stewart , 23. Hunter Paisami