Queensland Super rugby head coach Brad Thorn has named his team to play the Highlanders on Friday in Dunedin.
Three players will make their Queensland debut this week in New Zealand, with Souths prop Feao Fotuaika and new recruits Sefa Naivalu (pictured) and Bryce Hegarty named in Queensland’s starting XV.
While Queensland pathway products – backrower Fraser McReight and utility back Isaac Lucas are potentially set to make their Queensland and Super Rugby debuts after being included on the bench.
The Reds backline boasts 262 games of Super Rugby experience, with five Wallabies selected in the forward pack as well.
After being handed the 2019 captaincy, Samu Kerevi will lead the Reds and will have the support of Izack Rodda as vice-captain.
Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “The guys are excited to be in Super Rugby mode and are ready to rip in on Friday night.
“As a group, we congratulate all the new men on their Queensland selection.
“Feao is a feel-good story. He was out-of-shape and on the verge of giving up the game. We identified him playing club Rugby last year and his transformation since has been something to admire. Between Brynley Abad (strength and conditioning head coach) and Cameron Liliicrap (scrum coach), Feao has dropped 16 kilos in the pre-season and his scrummaging is now very dominant.
“It’s good to see two young guys like Fraser and Isaac come through the Queensland pathway and progress their Rugby to the next level. They’ve really impressed us during the pre-season and have been rewarded for their hard work.
“Bryce has been rock-solid since joining us. He offers versatility in the backline and is a great communicator, while we’re excited to see Sefa show off his skills for the first time in a maroon jersey. The two of them bring good experience and have been great around the group.
“The Highlanders are a quality team. It’s tough to win in Dunedin, so we’ll need to be at our best and execute what we’ve worked on,” said Thorn.
1. Feao Fotuaika, 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3. Taniela Tupou 4. Izack Rodda (vc) 5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto ,6. Angus Scott-Young , 7. Liam Wright – Easts, 8. Caleb Timu, 9. Moses Sorovi , 10. Hamish Stewart , 11. Sefa Naivalu, 12. Samu Kerevi (c) , 13. Jordan Petaia, 14. Chris Feauai-Sautia , 15. Bryce Hegarty.
Replacements : 16. Alex Mafi , 17. Harry Hoopert, 18. Ruan Smith, 19. Harry Hockings , 20. Fraser McReight, 21. Tate McDermott, 22. Duncan Paia’aua, 23. Isaac Lucas.