Reds head coach Brad Thorn has made two changes to his starting line-up to take on the Sunwolves in their Super Rugby clash in Brisbane on Friday.
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 England.
The one change to the starting pack sees versatile forward Lukhan Tui return to the starting side in the second-row, with Kane Douglas dropping out of the matchday 23.
In the backs, youngster Tate McDermott has earned his first Super Rugby start at scrum-half, 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.
Australia U20 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 Tui’s promotion.
Adam Korczyk has also found a spot in the matchday 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.
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.”
Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Filipo Daugunu, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Hamish Stewart, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Liam Wright, 6 Caleb Timu, 5 Lukhan Tui, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 JP Smith
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Angus Blyth, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Adam Korczyk, 22 Moses Sorovi, 23 Teti Tela
Date: Friday, July 13
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 19:45 local (10:45 BST, 09:45 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Referees: Damon Murphy, Jordan Way
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore