The Reds have been handed a timely boost ahead of their Super Rugby season opener, with star lock Izack Rodda named to face the Rebels.
Rodda had been conservatively aiming for a round three return in the Reds' clash with the Brumbies next Friday but there was a quiet sense of confidence that he would be fit and firing for their opener which has come to fruition.
The opening whistle at AAMI Park will signal the first minute the 21-year-old has played since October, when his shoulder went under the knife in the week of the third Bledisloe, in Brisbane.
His inclusion is a significant win for the Reds, who were dealt a cruel injury blow when Izaia Perese was ruled out for six weeks on Monday."I always wanted to be back for round one and we knew it was doable if I just did everything the medical team told me and ticked those boxes," Rodda said.
"It was pure joy and excitement, knowing I'd been given the all clear to play.
"Throughout rehab, all I could think about was getting my body right, getting as fit and strong as I could and getting back for the start of the season."
Jono Lance has won the battle for the starting flyhalf job ahead of Hamish Stewart, with Aidan Toua getting the nod at fullback.Eto Nabuli has also recovered from a wrist injury and will start in place of Perese, with Filipo Daugunu set for a potential debut off the bench.
Brandon Paenga-Amosa will make his Super Rugby debut at hooker and both Liam Wright and Tate McDermott have been named on the bench for what could be their first Super Rugby minutes.
Outside of the obvious absences of Quade Cooper and Karmichael Hunt, both Andrew Ready and Moses Sorovi have missed out on a spot in the 23, Alex Mafi and McDermott preferred by Thorn, respectively.
Reds side to face the Rebels
1. James Slipper – Bond University
2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa – Sunnybank (Queensland/Super Rugby debut)
3. Taniela Tupou – Brothers
4. Izack Rodda – Easts
5. Lukhan Tui – Souths
6. Caleb Timu – Souths
7. Adam Korczyk – University of Queensland
8. Scott Higginbotham (C) - Wests
9. James Tuttle – GPS
10. Jono Lance – University of Queensland
11. Eto Nabuli – GPS
12. Duncan Paia’aua – Norths
13. Samu Kerevi - Souths
14. Chris Feauai-Sautia – Souths
15. Aidan Toua – Easts
16. Alex Mafi – Bond University
17. JP Smith – GPS (Queensland debut)
18. Sef Fa’agase – University of Queensland
19. Kane Douglas – Norths
20. Liam Wright – Easts (potential Queensland/Super Rugby debut)
21. Tate McDermott – University of Queensland (potential Queensland/Super Rugby debut)
22. Hamish Stewart – Bond University
23. Filipo Daugunu – Wests (potential Queensland/Super Rugby debut)