Scott Higginbotham back for Reds

Date published: May 16 2018

The Reds have named their team to play the Hurricanes in Wellington this Friday, with captain Scott Higginbotham returning to the line-up.

They have made three personnel changes to the starting side which lost to the Sunwolves last weekend and a further three to the reserves.

In the forwards, Higginbotham’s return from a calf injury sees him resume his role as starting number eight, with Angus Scott-Young shifting to blindside flanker and Adam Korczyk dropping out of the matchday 23.

JP Smith has also been named at starting loosehead prop. James Slipper was not considered for selection for welfare reasons.

In the backs, Duncan Paia’aua has been promoted to the starting side, after Chris Feauai-Sautia failed to recover from a concussion suffered against the Sunwolves. Paia’aua has been named at inside centre, with Kerevi shifting to outside centre.

On the bench, the Reds have made changes to the reserve front-row, with hooker Andrew Ready earning selection for the first time since Round 5 and Ruan Smith returning, after not being considered for selection last week. Alex Mafi and Harry Hoopert have dropped out of the 23.

Outside back Izaia Perese has also returned to the reserves, named in the place made available by Paia’aua’s promotion.

Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “It’s pleasing to be able to welcome Scott (Higginbotham) back into the side. He’s had a tough run this year, not playing a lot of Rugby, but he made his way back from injury with a game for Wests last weekend and he’ll add a lot of experience and leadership to the side.

“It’s a shame to lose Chris (Feauai-Sautia) to injury, but it presents an opportunity for Duncan (Paia’aua). He has been working hard on his game. We’re excited to see what he brings to the starting side. It also allows us to bring Izaia (Perese) back onto the bench. He was disappointed not to be involved last week, so we expect a big impact from him.

“We’re also welcoming the twins and Andrew (Ready) back into the side. Andrew (Ready) has been chipping away and playing club Rugby, so he’s excited for another crack. The twins are also keen to get back into the side after missing out last weekend.

“The key thing for everyone this week is working hard and making the most of the opportunity presented to us. It’s a challenge, but we should be excited by that.

“It was an incredibly disappointing result on the weekend but we need to move on from that poor performance. We’re up against one of the better teams in the competition. It will be a challenge.

“We knew there would be some tough lessons to learn this season, but we need to learn quickly and this Friday presents an opportunity to act on the disappointment from last weekend.”

Reds: 15 Hamish Stewart, 14 Filipo Daugunu, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Jordan Petaia, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ben Lucas, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 George Smith, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 JP Smith
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Harry Hockings, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Izaia Perese, 23 Aidan Toua

Date: Friday, May 18
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: James Doleman (New Zealand), Richard Kelly (New Zealand)
Television match official: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)