Reds surprise with flyhalf against Lions
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Reds coach Brad Thorn has made four changes to the starting XV for Saturday’s Super Rugby Round Two match against the Lions in Johannesburg.
Utility back James O’Connor switches from inside centre to flyhalf – his second start in the Reds’ No.10 jersey, after he made his Queensland debut in the same position back in Round Three of the 2015 Super Rugby season.
Hamish Stewart comes off the bench and slots into the vacant number-12 spot, while lock Izack Rodda will also earn his first start of the season.
Alex Mafi will start at hooker following an ankle injury to Brandon Paenga-Amosa during last week’s clash in Canberra.
Following consultation in Brisbane, Paenga-Amosa will be sidelined for the next six-to-eight weeks after suffering ligament damage.
In one-of-four changes to the bench, potential Super Rugby debutant Sean Farrell comes into the 23 as a replacement at hooker
Prop Josh Nasser has also been brought in this week, and like Farrell, could possibly make his Queensland debut as well.
After Saturday’s game against the Lions, the Reds travel to Argentina to take on the Jaguares in the final leg of their three-week road trip – before returning home to host the Sunwolves in Brisbane on Saturday, February 22.
See coach Brad Thorn and captain Liam Wright’s views below …
Reds: 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Jock Campbell, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Henry Speight, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Liam Wright (captain), 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 Jean-Pierre Smith.
Replacements: 16 Sean Farrell, 17 Dane Zander, 18 Josh Nasser, 19 Angus Blyth, 20 Seru Uru, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Isaac Lucas, 23 Hunter Paisami.
Date: Saturday, February 8
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT; 23.00 Brisbane time)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa), Griffon Colby (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Preview: Super Rugby, Round Two, Part One
It is a ‘patience’ game at Newlands
Australia’s next playmaker?
Jaguares humbling was ‘good’ for the Lions
Stormers live in a ‘pretty big glass house’
‘Mean-spirited’ Hurricanes not good for the game