Reds back rookie centre
The Reds have backed inexperienced centre Aidan Toua to provide a midfield spark in their Super Rugby clash with the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.
Director of Rugby Ewan McKenzie has picked Toua at outside centre following impressive pre-season form and his stand-out performance in the Reds No.13 jersey during a 20-13 victory over the Brumbies in 2012.
He joins vice-captain Ben Tapuai in the midfield while Dom Shipperley has won the hotly contested race for the wing position opposite Digby Ioane with goal-kicking ace Mike Harris rounding out the back-three at fullback.
Playmaker Quade Cooper also makes his return to action after missing last year's play-off loss to the Sharks through suspension and will join scrumhalf Ben Lucas in the halves.
Prop James Slipper will captain the Reds as part of a starting front-row which includes Greg Holmes at loosehead prop and Saia Faingaa at hooker.
In the absence of injured skipper James Horwill, locks Rob Simmons and Adam Wallace-Harrison will commence the game in the second-row while Reds College lock Ed O'Donoghue has earned a place on the bench.
The Reds will boast a young yet talented loose trio with Wallaby Liam Gill at openside flank, Eddie Quirk at blindside, and Jake Schatz packing down at the back of the scrum at No.8.
McKenzie has opted for a traditional 4-3 split on the bench with Albert Anae, James Hanson, Jarrad Butler and O’Donoghue covering the forwards and Nick Frisby, Jono Lance and Chris F’Sautia the backs.
"There are a lot of factors that dictate selection, including experience, but we also try to acknowledge current form," McKenzie said.
"Guys such as Aidan Toua and Eddie Quirk haven't played a lot of Super Rugby but have put their hand up during the pre-season.
"We've got some very strong ideas on how we want to play the Brumbies and the entire group has understood since Monday the role they play in that. We've had a great preparation," he added.
Reds: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Aidan Toua, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Ben Lucas, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 3 James Slipper (captain), 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 Albert Anae, 17 James Hanson, 18 Ed O'Donoghue, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Nick Frisby, 21 Jono Lance, 22 Chris F'Sautia.
Date: Saturday, February 16
Venue: Canberra Stadium Canberra
Kick-off: 19.40 (08.40 GMT)
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia) Ian Smith (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)