Reds starts for Cooper, Smith, Moore

Date published: February 22 2017

The Reds have named their side for their first match of the Super Rugby season against the Sharks at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Friday.

Veteran flanker George Smith will become Queensland representative number 1307 after being named to make his Reds debut in the seven shirt.

While the match will be Smith’s first for Queensland, he is no stranger to Super Rugby, having already accumulated 142 caps in the competition.

Friday’s match will also signal a return to Suncorp Stadium in Reds colours for Stephen Moore, Scott Higginbotham and Quade Cooper, who have all been named in the starting side.

While Smith is the only ‘debutant’ in the Reds’ starting side, Markus Vanzati, Izack Rodda and Izaia Perese are in line to make their Reds and Super Rugby debuts after being named as reserves.

Reds head coach Nick Stiles said his first side for the 2017 season reflected not only the depth of the squad, but the fierce competition for spots.

“It’s pretty exciting to think in two days we’ll be back playing at Suncorp Stadium in front of our home fans,” Stiles said.

“We’ve all had this date circled in our calendars for a long time and the players and staff have worked incredibly hard to get to this point in the best possible position.

“Anyone who watched how we performed in the tens and our trial against the Rebels would know there is a lot of competition for spots in this squad.

“We’ve got a lot of seasoned campaigners, but there are also some young up-and-coming players who have earned an opportunity through their hard work and their form in pre-season.

“Now the challenge is there for us to put everything we’ve worked on into practice against the Sharks on Friday night.”

Reds: 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Chris Kuridrani, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 George Smith, 6 Adam Korczyk, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper (c)
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Markus Vanzati, 18 Sef Fa’agase, 19 Izack Rodda, 20 Hendrik Tui, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Jake McIntyre, 23 Izaia Perese

Date: Friday, February 24
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 20:00 local (09:00 GMT)
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Nic Berry (Australia)
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)

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