The Queensland Reds have made three changes to their starting side to take on the Fijian Drua in a historic double header at Suncorp Stadium this Saturday.
After making his return to the side via the bench last week, Taniela Tupou will run-on alongside Harry Hoopert who makes his first start of 2022.
Ryan Smith moves into the starting side in place of injured lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, while University of Queensland’s secondrower Connor Vest will potentially make his Queensland and Super Rugby Pacific debut off the bench.
23-year-old openside flanker Fraser McReight will captain his state for the first time.
Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “It’s great to be back home this week playing in front of our Queensland fans.
“They’ve been through a lot recently with the floods and hopefully we can put in a good performance for them and put some smiles on some faces.
“It’s great to have the Drua in the competition. Their style of play is positive and they’ll be full of confidence after their first win last week. We’re expecting a tough contest on Saturday night,” said Thorn.
In honour of Queensland Rugby Union’s Pasifika Round, eight players will proudly wear the flag of their pacific background on their jersey which will be signed and auctioned off after the match to raise further funds for UNICEF Australia’s Tongan Recovery Appeal in response to the explosion of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano and subsequent tsunami earlier this year.
Taniela Tupou (Tonga), Seru Uru (Fiji), Kalani Thomas (Maori), Hunter Paisami (Samoa), Jordan Petaia (Samoa), Feao Fotuaika (Tonga), Zane Nonggorr (Papua New Guinea) and Tuania Taii Tualima (Samoa) will all sport the flag of their heritage.
Petaia makes the move to fullback in a reshuffled back three, seeing Jock Campbell and Josh Flook start on the wings.
Thomas, James O’Connor, Hamish Stewart and Paisami retain their spots in the halves and centres respectively.
Tupou and Hoopert run on in the front row alongside Josh Nasser who will make his second starting appearance in the Queensland jersey.
Smith partners Blyth in the second row, while Uru, Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson make up an unchanged back row trio.
Vest will potentially make his debut off the bench, while Nonggorr also returns to the 23.
Queensland take on the Fijian Drua at 6:45pm AEST, with the women’s side taking to the field at 4:15pm to face the Fijiana Drua in a historic double header.
Queensland Reds v Fijian Drua, Suncorp Stadium at 6:45pm AEST:
Harry Hoopert – Brothers
Josh Nasser – University of Queensland
Taniela Tupou – Brothers – Tonga
Ryan Smith – Brothers
Angus Blyth – Bond University
Seru Uru – Wests – Fiji
Fraser McReight (c) – Brothers
Harry Wilson – Brothers
Kalani Thomas – University of Queensland – Maori
James O’Connor – Brothers
Josh Flook – Brothers
Hamish Stewart – Brothers
Hunter Paisami – Wests – Samoa
Jock Campbell – University of Queensland
Jordan Petaia – Wests – Samoa
Matt Faessler – Brothers
Feao Fotuaika – Sunnybank – Tonga
Zane Nonggorr – Bond University – Papua New Guinea
Connor Vest* - University of Queensland
Tuaina Taii Tualima – GPS – Samoa
Spencer Jeans – Bond University
Lawson Creighton – Brothers
Mac Grealy – University of Queensland
*denotes potential Queensland and Super Rugby Pacific debut