The St.George Queensland Reds have named their team to take on the Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium this Friday night in their annual Indigenous Round clash.
The Reds have made two changes to the starting team which defeated the Melbourne Rebels last week, as they prepare for their last match of the 2018 Vodafone Super Rugby season.
Veteran flanker George Smith was unable to recover from a knee injury in time for this Friday’s match, meaning he will be forced to watch from the sidelines before heading offshore to take up a contract with Bristol Bears in the UK.
The one change to the starting forward pack sees versatile forward Lukhan Tui return to the starting side in the second row, with Kane Douglas dropping out of the match-day 23.
In the backs, youngster Tate McDermott has earned his first Super Rugby start at scrumhalf, with Moses Sorovi shifting to the bench.
The Reds have also made a number of changes to the reserves, opting for six forwards and two backs.
Bond University Queensland Country and Australian U20s lock Angus Blyth is in line to make his potential Queensland and Super Rugby debut, after being brought onto the bench, taking the place freed up by Lukhan Tui’s promotion.
Adam Korczyk has also found a spot in the match-day 23 for the first time since Round 13, when the Reds and Sunwolves last met.
Utility back Teti Tela from Brisbane club Souths is also in line for a potential Queensland and Super Rugby debut, having been named on the bench for the second week in a row.
Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “We’re excited to be back at Suncorp Stadium this Friday with one last chance to play in front of our home fans in 2018.
“We were all really pleased with the character shown to get the win against the Melbourne Rebels last week and we know we need to back that up with another strong performance against the Sunwolves.
“It’s unfortunate that George doesn’t get an opportunity to play in the Reds’ jersey one final time, but we thought it was in his best interests to listen to his body and sit this one out. He has given plenty to us and to Australian Rugby as a whole and we wish him all the best with the rest of his career.
“We’ve made a couple of changes that probably reflect the depth in the squad and also point a bit to the future. Lukhan Tui returns to the starting side at lock beside Izack Rodda and Angus Blyth gets his first opportunity this week. He has been working away, waiting to get a taste at this level. He’s one to watch for the future. Kane Douglas has done a great job for us this season, but with him moving overseas, we felt we should give opportunities to younger players.
“With Tate McDermott and Moses Sorovi, they’re both exciting young players with plenty to offer. This is Tate’s first opportunity in the starting side and we know Moses will provide some spark off the bench.
“We didn’t get a chance to use Teti Tela last week, but hopefully he will get that opportunity this Friday because he has been a great contributor to the squad all season.
“The Sunwolves are a dangerous attacking team. They’ve got some clever plays and a smart kicking game, so we need to be switched on and prepared for anything.”
The match also marks Queensland Rugby Union’s seventh annual Indigenous Round, with the Reds to wear a specially-designed jersey as the centrepiece of the organisation’s NAIDOC Week celebrations. The jersey was designed by Samantha Booth, a Butchulla woman, whose three children are members of the Reds Future Indigenous Leaders Program in Woorabinda, Central Queensland. The jerseys will be presented to the match-day 23 by members of the Reds Future Indigenous Leaders Program at tomorrow’s captain’s run at Ballymore.
The match-day jerseys will be auctioned off following the match, to raise money for the Reds Indigenous Program.
The Reds play the Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium this Friday 13 July at 7:45pm. Tickets are available at www.redsrugby.com.au. The match will also be broadcast live on Fox Sports.
St.George Queensland Reds team to play Sunwolves
7:45pm AEST, Friday 13 July – Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
1. JP Smith – GPS
2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa – Sunnybank
3. Taniela Tupou – Brothers
4. Izack Rodda – Easts
5. Lukhan Tui – Souths
6. Caleb Timu – Souths
7. Liam Wright – Easts
8. Scott Higginbotham – Wests (C)
9. Tate McDermott – University of Queensland (run-on debut)
10. Hamish Stewart – Bond University
11. Eto Nabuli – Souths
12. Duncan Paia’aua – Norths
13. Jordan Petaia – Wests
14. Filipo Daugunu – Wests
15. Jono Lance – University of Queensland
16. Alex Mafi – Bond University
17. Harry Hoopert – Brothers
18. Ruan Smith – GPS
19. Angus Blyth – Bond University (potential Queensland/Super Rugby debut)
20. Angus Scott-Young – University of Queensland
21. Adam Korczyk – University of Queensland
22. Moses Sorovi – University of Queensland
23. Teti Tela – Souths (potential Queensland/Super Rugby debut)