Star Reds winger Izaia Perese will make a timely return to rugby on Saturday, named in Queensland's side to face the Waratahs.
Queensland were dealt a huge blow prior to their season opener, against the Rebels, when Perese was ruled out for the first two months of the season due to a partial ACL tear.
But he is fit and firing and will add a healthy dose of X factor a Reds side that has struggled to score tries despite their encouraging start to the season.
Perese replaces in Eto Nabuli on the left wing but he is not the only change to a Reds team which was well beaten by a desperate Brumbies outfit at GIO Stadium.
There are six total changes to the starting XV, the most impactful of those the absence of Taniela Tupou, who has succumbed to a shoulder injury.Ruan Smith will make his first start of the season in his place.
There is a complete reshuffle of the backrow to accommodate the loss of Scott Higginbotham, too, with Caleb Timu shifting to No. 8, Liam Wright starting at openside flanker and Lukhan Tui named at blindside flanker.
Ben Lucas is yet to recover from a head knock suffered early on against ACT, James Tuttle named as his replacement.
Perese's inclusion is the only other change to the backline but the bench has a fresh look about it too.
Tate McDermott, Angus Scott-Young and Sef Faagase all return to the 23 after missing out last week, with Adam Korczyk dropping back to the bench to allow for the inclusion of both Tui and Wright in the starting XV.
“It’s disappointing to lose those guys to injury, but we’ve been working hard to develop depth within the squad so that we can cope with these setbacks when they occur," Thorn said.
"It’s a chance for other players to step up.
“It’s a good opportunity for Ruan to make his first start for us. We’ve had to shuffle the back row, but Lukhan (Tui) has the ability to play Number 6 and lock, so the injury to Scott (Higginbotham) gives him the chance to start at blindside flanker.
"He’s in great shape and is excited to have a crack in that position. We’re keen to see how he goes in that different role.
“Liam (Wright) is a very mobile guy who has been working hard on his game. Adam (Korczyk) has been doing a great job as well, but it’s an opportunity for Liam to start this weekend.
“While we’ve lost some guys through injury, we’re also welcoming one back with Izaia (Perese) starting for the first time this year.
"He’s been cracking in at training, waiting for his chance to get back on the field. He’s a guy who offers a bit of strike in attack, so it’s good to have him back.”
The Reds face the Waratahs at the SCG on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and RUGBY.com.au radio. Buy tickets here.
Reds team to face the Waratahs
IN: Izaia Perese, Tate McDermott, Angus Scott-Young, Sef Faagase
OUT: Taniela Tupou, Scott Higginbotham, Ben Lucas, Eto Nabuli
1. James Slipper (C) – Bond University
2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa - Sunnybank
3. Ruan Smith (run-on debut) –GPS
4. Izack Rodda – Easts
5. Kane Douglas – Norths
6. Lukhan Tui – Souths
7. Liam Wright – Easts
8. Caleb Timu – Souths
9. James Tuttle – GPS
10. Jono Lance – University of Queensland
11. Izaia Perese – Easts
12. Samu Kerevi – Souths
13. Chris Feauai-Sautia – Souths
14. Filipo Daugunu – Wests
15. Aidan Toua – Easts
16. Alex Mafi – Bond University
17. JP Smith – GPS
18. Sef Fa’agase –University of Queensland
19. Adam Korczyk – University of Queensland
20. Angus Scott-Young – University of Queensland
21. Tate McDermott – University of Queensland
22. Hamish Stewart – Bond University
23. Jordan Petaia – Wests