A desperate dash across Brisbane to play 40 minutes of club football has paid off for Izaia Perese, named in the Reds starting side that will take on the Highlanders.
Perese had a ride waiting for him at Brisbane Airport on Saturday when the Reds returned from their trip to Wellington, shooting across town to Toowong, where his club side Easts were facing Wests.
He pulled on the No. 23 jersey and scored a try in a stellar second half for the Tigers, showing just how desperate he was to return to the right wing after a pair of lacklustre starts upon a return from a knee injury.
His hard work has paid off, replacing boom rookie Filipo Daugunu on the right wing for the clash with the Highlanders.
The other change to the starting XV is in the second row, with Kane Douglas replaced by Australian U20s lock Harry Hockings.It will be Hockings' first Super Rugby start, having made eight appearances off the pine already this season.
A 6-2 split on the bench has squeezed Daugunu out of the 23 altogether, with Caleb Timu set to return from an ankle injury suffered in Queensland's last home start, an upset win over the Lions.
"Kane (Douglas) had a good game last week and he has been in strong form, but we felt the time was right to give Harry (Hockings) an opportunity to start," coach Brad Thorn said.
"He has been making great strides in his development and this is the next step for him. Kane will provide good impact off the bench.
"Izaia (Perese) has been working hard to get back to the form he showed us in the pre-season, before his knee injury. He has had some chances off the bench and now he gets another crack in the starting side.
"It’s good to see Caleb (Timu) return from injury too. He was in damaging form before that setback and hopefully he will bounce back quickly."
Reds team to face the Highlanders
1. JP Smith – GPS
2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa – Sunnybank
3. Taniela Tupou – Brothers
4. Izack Rodda – Easts
5. Harry Hockings – University of Queensland
6. Angus Scott-Young – University of Queensland
7. George Smith – Brothers
8. Scott Higginbotham (C) – Wests
9. Ben Lucas – Sunnybank
10. Jono Lance – University of Queensland
11. Jordan Petaia – Wests
12. Duncan Paia’aua – Norths
13. Samu Kerevi – Souths
14. Izaia Perese – Easts
15. Hamish Stewart – Bond University
16. Andrew Ready – Easts
17. Sef Fa’agase – University of Queensland
18. Ruan Smith – GPS
19. Kane Douglas – Norths
20. Caleb Timu – Souths
21. Liam Wright – Easts
22. Moses Sorovi - Wests
23. Aidan Toua – Easts
The Reds host the Highlanders at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and RUGBY.com.au radio.