O'Connor to start at flyhalf
Sydney - Wayward Wallabies back James O'Connor will start his first game for the Reds at flyhalf against the Force in Brisbane on Saturday.
The highly talented and versatile 24-year-old, who was banished into exile in Europe after a drunken incident at Perth airport in 2013, returned to the Reds in a bid to revive his international career in time for the Rugby World Cup.
Perhaps more importantly for the struggling Reds, former All Black loose forward Adam Thomson will also make his debut against a rugged Force outfit, who upset the reigning champion Waratahs in their season opener last Sunday.
The Reds, Super Rugby champions in the last World Cup year in 2011, were pitiful last season under coach Richard Graham and suffered a humiliating 47-3 defeat to the Brumbies in their campaign opener last weekend.
O'Connor, who started at flyhalf for Australia in the 2013 British and Irish Lions series, replaces Karmichael Hunt in the number 10 shirt with the former rugby league international and Australian Rules player moving to fullback.
"James has spent the last two weeks training fully with the team and looks settled," Graham said in a news release.
"He is motivated to help the team around the field and allow the side to find their attacking framework.
"Karmichael and he will split the role on some first phase and phase attack.
"Adam has only been with the group now two weeks but has fitted in superbly. As a leader and a footballer he has been able to contribute positively to what we are doing."
Regular Reds and sometime Australia flyhalf Quade Cooper fractured his collar bone in pre-season training and will miss up to two months of the Super Rugby campaign.
Reds: 15 Karmichael Hunt (vice-captain), 14 Chris Kuridrani, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Lachie Turner, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 James Horwill, 4 Marco Kotze, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper (captain)
Substitutes: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Sef Faagase,
19 Tom Murday, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Sam Johnson, 23 Campbell Magnay.