Reds coach Brad Thorn has opted to rest a number of key players after their Super Rugby AU Final heroics ahead of their opening round clash with the Highlanders.
After an 85th minute thriller, Thorn has not selected starters Tate McDermott (rest), Harry Wilson (concussion) and Jordan Petaia (Quad) along with Alex Mafi (concussion) as the side prepares for a short-turn around on Friday.
Meanwhile, Final MVP Fraser McReight, Taniela Tupou and Lukhan Salakia-Loto have been moved to the bench.
This allows Liam Wright and Seru Uru to return to the starting side, with Wright taking the co-captaincy alongside James O'Connor.
Dane Zander comes into tighthead prop for Tupou whilst Filipo Daugunu has been elevated from the bench.
Frontrow duo Josh Nasser and Harry Hoopert, plus scrumhalf Moses Sorovi, have earned a re-call via the bench.
“The Trans-Tasman is finally here and everyone’s looking forward to it,” Thorn said in a statement.
“Super Rugby Aotearoa has been of a really high standard and it’s a great opportunity to go up against the Kiwi teams again. We’ve got a short turnaround and the Highlanders will be a tough opponent down in Dunedin.
“Winning the title was a great reward for everyone involved – the players, the staff and also our Queensland supporters across this great state. It was great to get that trophy, but we’ve put it in the cabinet and we’re focussing on our next job.”
Meanwhile, the Highlanders have confirmed that Josh Ioane will not be available, falling to overcome a lower leg injury.
Michael Collins comes into the centres in his place, pushing Sio Tomkinson to the wing and Sam Gilbert to fullback.
Shannon Frizell has been stood down after assault allegations emerged over the weekend
New coach Clarke Dermody will welcome back Pari Pari Parkinson and Hugh Renton in the starting side, with Parkinson cleared of an ankle injury.
Dermody takes over for regular coach Tony Brown, who has headed to Japan to prepare their national side for their fixtures with the British and Irish Lions and Ireland.
Friday 14 May 5:05 pm AEST – Highlanders v Reds at Forsyth Barr Stadium, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport
HIGHLANDERS (1-15): Ayden Johnstone, Ash Dixon (co-c), Siate Tokolahi, Pari Pari Parkinson, Josh Dickson, Hugh Renton, Billy Harmon, Kazuki Himeno, Aaron Smith (co-c), Mitch Hunt, Jona Nareki, Scott Gregory, Michael Collins, Sio Tomkinson, Sam Gilbert
Reserves: Liam Coltman, Ethan De Groot, Josh Hohneck, Bryn Evans, James Lentjes, Kayne Hammington, Tim O'Malley, Ngatugnane Punivai
INs: Tim O'Malley, Ngatugnane Punivai, Pari Pari Parkinson
OUTs: Shannon Frizell, Josh Ioane, Manaaki Selby-Rickit
REDS (1-15): Dane Zander, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Feao Fotuaika, Ryan Smith, Angus Blyth, Angus Scott-Young, Liam Wright (co-c), Seru Uru, Kalani Thomas, James O'Connor (co-c), Jock Campbell, Hamish Stewart, Josh Flook, Filipo Daugunu, Bryce Hegarty
Reserves: Josh Nasser, Harry Hoopert, Taniela Tupou, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Fraser McReight, Moses Sorovi, Isaac Henry, Suliasi Vunivalu
INs: Josh Nasser, Moses Sorovi, Harry Hoopert, Suliasi Vunivalu, Angus Blyth
OUTs: Alex Mafi, Tate McDermott, Zane Nonggorr, Jordan Petaia, Harry Wilson
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