The St.George Queensland Reds have made five changes to their starting XV for this weekend’s match against Queensland oldest rival, New South Wales in Sydney.
Duncan Paia’aua replaces Jordan Petaia in Queensland’s backline after the dynamic centre suffered a season-ending foot injury against the Crusaders last week.
Paia’aua will wear the number 12 jersey, seeing captain Samu Kerevi shift to outside centre for Saturday’s clash at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Former Waratah, Bryce Hegarty has been named at flyhalf, while Isaac Lucas will make his first Super Rugby start at fullback.
In the forwards, JP Smith and Scott Higginbotham will start at loosehead prop and number eight respectively after both made late impacts off the bench last weekend.
There are also four changes to the Reds interchange with Angus Scott-Young and Hamish Stewart both named on the bench.
Harry Hoopert is back in the Reds matchday 23, while teenage West Australian utility back Jack Hardy could potentially make his Super Rugby and Queensland debut.
Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “No matter what code or sport, Queensland v New South Wales are always good games. It’s a historic rivalry and I know our men will wear the maroon jersey with pride.
“Bryce is a great communicator within the group. He has showed good composure, confidence and direction when he’s slotted into that 10 position the last two games. Hamish moves to the bench. He continues to work hard and provides us with options in the backline.
“Congratulations to Isaac. It’s a big achievement to run out for Queensland for the first time. In our two matches against the Highlanders and Crusaders, he’s come on and hasn’t looked out of place. We’re excited to see what he can do with more game time this weekend.
“Duncan did his job last week when he came on for Jordy. It’s good having someone like him we can bring into our backline to partner Samu in the centres.
“It’s disappointing losing Jordy. As a group we’re all supporting him. We have an excellent rehab team here with physio Cameron Lillicrap and strength and conditioning coach Brynley Abad, so we take great confidence knowing he’ll back quicker and stronger.
“Jack is a talented footballer. He has really impressed us and he’s still only 19. He’s been great around the group since coming from Perth and trialling with us in the pre-season. He’s worked hard to earn his spot in the team this week and we congratulate him,” said Thorn.
Queensland will be looking to end a nine-game losing streak against their southern rivals, with their last victory over New South Wales back in 2013.
The Reds play the Waratahs at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday evening at 6:45pm AEST and the match will be broadcast live on Fox Sports.
Queensland’s next home game at Suncorp Stadium is against the Brumbies in Round 6 on Sunday afternoon March 24 at 2:50pm AEST. Tickets available via http://bit.ly/2019RedsTickets
St.George Queensland Reds v Waratahs – Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney on March 9 at 6:45pm AEST
1. JP Smith – GPS
2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa – Sunnybank
3. Taniela Tupou – Brothers
4. Izack Rodda (vc) – Easts
5. Harry Hockings – University of Queensland
6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto – Souths
7. Liam Wright – Easts
8. Scott Higginbotham – Wests
9. Moses Sorovi – Wests
10. Bryce Hegarty – GPS
11. Sefa Naivalu – TBC
12. Duncan Paia’aua – Norths
13. Samu Kerevi (c) – Souths
14. Chris Feauai-Sautia – Souths
15. Isaac Lucas – Sunnybank*
16. Alex Mafi – Bond University
17. Harry Hoopert – Brothers
18. Ruan Smith – GPS
19. Caleb Timu – Souths
20. Angus Scott-Young – University of Queensland
21. Tate McDermott – University of Queensland
22. Hamish Stewart – Bond University
23. Jack Hardy – Easts**
*Denotes run on debut
**Denotes potential Queensland and Super Rugby debut