Reds vs Crusaders: Higginbotham and Smith return, Salakaia-Loto switches to six

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

The Reds have brought injured pair Scott Higginbotham and JP Smith straight back into the fold for Saturday night's clash against Super Rugby champions the Crusaders.

The pair will return on the bench, with Queensland also making two changes to their starting XV.

Harry Hockings will start at lock, with Lukhan Salakaia-Loto shifting to flanker, while Angus Scott-Young will start at No.8 with Caleb Timu on the bench.

Izack Rodda will also play, determined to help the Reds try and arrest the Crusaders record 17-game winning streak despite the death of his father last week.

With each Super Rugby team having to rest its Wallabies at times in the lead-up to the World Cup, there had been some thought Rodda would take time off this week.

But as he was last week, Rodda was determined to play and the Reds have respected his wishes. 

Harry Hockings of the Reds and Tyler Ardron of the Chiefs compete for the ball in the line out throw during the Super Rugby pre-season match between the Reds and the Chiefs at Ballymore Stadium on February 08, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)Queensland's backline remains unchanged after causing headaches for the Highlanders in Dunedin.

Coach Brad Thorn said it was good to have Higginbotham and Smith return.

"They bring good experience and provide us with a strong bench," he said.

"Harry (Hockings) has been working hard at training and deserves his spot in the starting side this week."

JP and Ruan Smith will both sit out the Sunwolves match. Photo: Getty ImagesAttack coach Jim McKay said thought had been given to starting Higginbotham and Smith, given their experience, but the starters had deserved to retain their places after the effort against the Highlanders.

"There were discussions surrounding that but the other guys have done very well and on the back of last week where we played quite well -- obviously we didn't get the result we wanted to -- we needed to recognise and reward that effort," McKay said.

"We're confident in (the starters) but equally, we're confident in the guys coming off the bench and doing a job for us as well."

The Reds take on the Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, March 2, kicking off at 7:45pm (6:45pm local) LIVE on FOX SPORTS and RUGBY.com.au RADIO.

TEAMS 

Reds to face Crusaders

1. Feao Fotuaika

2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa

3. Taniela Tupou

4. Izack Rodda

5. Harry Hockings

6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto

7. Liam Wright

8. Angus Scott-Young

9. Moses Sorovi

10. Hamish Stewart

11. Sefa Naivalu

12. Samu Kerevi

13. Jordan Petaia

14. Chris Feauai-Sautia

15. Bryce Hegarty

Reserves

16. Alex Mafi

17. JP Smith

18. Ruan Smith

19. Caleb Timu

20. Scott Higginbotham

21. Tate McDermott

22. Duncan Paia'aua

23. Isaac Lucas

Crusaders to play Reds

1. Joe Moody

2. Andrew Makalio

3. Owen Franks

4. Scott Barrett

5. Quinten Strange

6. Tom Sanders

7. Matt Todd

8. Whetu Douglas

9. Mitch Drummond

10. Richie Mounga

11. George Bridge

12. Tim Bateman

13. Jack Goodhue

14. Braydon Ennor

15. Will Jordan

Reserves

16. Ben Funnell

17. Harry Allan

18. Michael Alaalatoa

19. Luke Romano

20. Jordan Taufua

21. Bryn Hall

22. Mitchell Hunt

23. David Havili