Reds coach Nick Stiles has swung the axe ahead of his team's pivotal clash with the Brumbies, leaving Andrew Ready and Nick Frisby out of the 23-man matchday squad.
But Stiles denies the changes relate to reports the pair went out drinking after last Saturday's loss to the Hurricanes, pointing to their work both on and off the field in the weeks prior as the reason for the shift.
He was seething at both of their performances after the Canes loss and while the drinking session immediately following the loss would not have helped their cause, RUGBY.com.au understands the decision to send the pair back to club football would have been made regardless.
Frisby and Ready were also not at Ballymore on Sunday among a large portion of the Reds squad to watch the Queensland U20s claim their second straight Super U20s title.
It's understood it was not mandatory for players to attend, though many players used the opportunity to soak in the ice baths at Ballymore.
"I flagged straight after the game on the weekend that I was disappointed with the bench performance and it wasn't just that game," Stiles said.
"Over the last couple of weeks in particular Andrew Ready and Nick Frisby - their preparation hasn't been spot on."It takes so much to prepare well and it's tough to win Super Rugby and you can't just rock up on a Saturday and expect to win.
"Unfortunately for those two, it just hasn't been up to scratch.
"It's something I have been speaking to them about along the way and they'll go back to club rugby now and I want to see a response from them."
Ready is perhaps a touch stiff as his form has only waned in the last two matches - though the drinking incident can't have helped - but Frisby has consistently struggled in 2017.After a breakout 2016 in which he earned his Wallabies debut and regularly featured off the bench on the Spring Tour, Frisby's knack for finding holes around the breakdown has disappeared, as has his box kick.
"Last year was Nick's first year as a starting nine for us and then to go away on a Wallabies Spring Tour - it's a big year physically," Stiles said.
"And it's also mentally challenging.
"Nick has come back from that tour a little bit drained and that transferred into his preparation and how he has been performing."
This is a line in the sand from Stiles but it also provides opportunities for young guns Alex Mafi and Moses Sorovi.
Mafi is similar to Ready in that he is a proficient lineout thrower while also being damaging at defensive breakdowns and in carries.Sorovi is a scrumhalf that has an innate ability to break the line and create opportunities for others, though his pass has been found wanting at times in NRC and Premier Grade level.
"Alex has had setbacks through his first three or four years out of school," Stiles said.
"He's had a couple of shoulder recons which has really hindered his progression but he's a fantastic footballer.
"He's been in our system for a while now but hasn't had an opportunity to play.
"Moses Sorovi is a really exciting young nine.
"I saw him running around in Colts football a few years ago and just saw that he has a really naturally gifted game.
"We got him involved in NRC ahead of his time but looking towards the future and he has worked very hard over the last two years to improve - he will get his opportunity off the bench."Lachlan Maranta will start at fullback with Karmichael Hunt suffering concussion symptoms following the Hurricanes match.
Sef Fa'agase has overcome a calf complaint to start at loosehead, with Taniela Tupou slotting back onto the bench.
Hamish Stewart has been named for a potential debut, while Izack Rodda comes back on to the bench in place of Lukhan Tui after a head knock kept him out last week.
IN: Sef Fa'agase, Alex Mafi, Moses Sorovi, Izack Rodda
OUT: Phil Kite, Andrew Ready, Nick Frisby, Lukhan Tui
Reds team to take on the Brumbies
1. Sef Fa’agase
2. Stephen Moore (C)
3. Sam Talakai
4. Rob Simmons
5. Kane Douglas
6. Adam Korczyk
7. George Smith
8. Scott Higginbotham
9. James Tuttle
10. Jake McIntyre
11. Eto Nabuli
12. Duncan Paia’aua
13. Samu Kerevi
14. Chris Kuridrani
15. Lachlan Maranta
16. Alex Mafi
17. Kirwan Sanday
18. Taniela Tupou
19. Izack Rodda
20. Hendrik Tui
21. Moses Sorovi
22. Hamish Stewart
23. Izaia Perese
The Reds take on the Brumbies on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.