The Reds host the Vodacom Bulls who will play in their Vodacom Super Rugby Australasian tour opener against the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday (10:15 SA Time).
This match is vital as both teams have only won one game this season and are in desperate need for a win to make their supporters believe that they can still be involved in the play-offs.
In two last-minute changes, Burger Odendaal and Cornal Hendricks who returned to Pretoria after they injured their ankle and knee respectively were replaced by Franco Naude and Divan Rossouw respectively. Marco Jansen van Vuren has been named on the bench in place of Rossouw.
On the Reds' side, Brad Thorn has made six changes to his team, the most prominent of which is the return of James O'Connor at flyhalf after having recovered from an ankle injury. Chris Feauai-Sautia shifts to outside centre to cover the loss of Hunter Paisami who has been ruled out with a knee injury. Bryce Hegarty has been brought into the starting side and will fill the void on the right-wing left by Feauai-Sautia’s positional switch.
Following standout performances in Queensland’s first three games of the season, Norths prop Dane Zander has earned his maiden Super Rugby start. For the first time in their Super Rugby careers, Angus Blyth and Harry Hockings will start alongside each other in the second-row. Blyth’s promotion into the XV sees Lukhan Salakaia-Loto shift back to number six for the third time this year.
There are three changes to the reserves with Harry Hoopert recalled into Queensland’s matchday 23, while Angus Scott-Young and Isaac Lucas are set to come on as replacements this weekend at Suncorp Stadium.
Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “It’s great to be back home in front of our loyal Queensland fans this week. They’ll enjoy two games of quality Rugby with the Crusaders and Sunwolves playing before us. The Bulls are always tough opposition. They got their first win last week and will be full of confidence heading into this game.
“We took plenty of positives from our performance in Christchurch last week and we look forward to a tough contest against the Bulls,” said Thorn.
Vodacom Bulls head coach Pote Human said they wanted to maintain the winning formula and decided not to change too much to their team: “The players put up their hands last week and have been rewarded for their efforts. The combinations worked well and the bench complimented the efforts of the starters. Our scrums were good as were our lineouts but there is always work to be done especially in terms of discipline.”
Reds: 15. Jock Campbell, 14. Bryce Hegarty, 13. Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12. Hamish Stewart, 11. Henry Speight, 10. James O’Connor, 9. Scott Malolua, 8. Harry Wilson, 7. Liam Wright, 6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5. Harry Hockings, 4. Angus Blyth, 3. Taniela Tupou, 2. Alex Mafi, 1. Dane Zander. Replacements: 16. Ed Craig, 17. Harry Hoopert, 18. Josh Nasser, 19. Angus Scott-Young, 20. Fraser McReight, 21. Tate McDermott, 22. Isaac Lucas, 23. Filipo Daugunu.
Vodacom Bulls: 15. Warrick Gelant, 14. Divan Rossouw, 13. Johnny Kotze, 12. Franco Naude, 11. Rosko Specman, 10. Manie Libbok, 9. Embrose Papier, 8. Muller Uys, 7. Josh Strauss, 6. Marco van Staden, 5. Ruan Nortje, 4. Ian Groenewald, 3. Trevor Nyakane (Capt), 2. Jaco Visagie, 1. Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: 16. Corniel Els, 17. Gerhard Steenekamp, 18. Wiehahn Herbst, 19. Ryno Pieterse, 20. Ruan Steenkamp, 21. Ivan van Zyl, 22. Morné Steyn, 23. Marco Jansen van Vuren.