Sydney - The Reds have made a number of changes, some injury enforced, to their starting XV for the clash with the Waratahs at Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday.
Kick-off is at 11:45 SA time.
In the forward pack, injuries to prop Taniela Tupou (shoulder) and number eight Scott Higginbotham (calf) have forced a reshuffle.
Tupou has been replaced by Ruan Smith, who will make his run-on debut.
Higginbotham’s injury sees Caleb Timu shift to number eight, with Lukhan Tui brought into the starting side at blindside flank.
Meanwhile, Liam Wright has earned his first start at openside flank since Round Four, with Adam Korczyk moving to the bench.
Experienced prop James Slipper will take over the captaincy in Higginbotham’s absence.
The Reds have also made two changes to the starting backline.
Scrumhalf Ben Lucas is yet to recover from a concussion sustained last week and has been replaced by James Tuttle.
Wing Izaia Perese has returned from a knee injury suffered in the pre-season to earn his first start of the year, with Jayden Ngamanu dropping out of the match-day 23.
The Reds have made a further four changes to the reserves, with Korczyk dropping to the bench for the first time this year and prop Sef Fa’agase, flank Angus Scott-Young and scrumhalf Tate McDermott back in the match-day 23 for the first time since Round Six.
Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “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. 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 flank. 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 match will be an historic occasion, with the two sides meeting at the Sydney Cricket Ground for the first time since 1983. Both sides will wear traditional strips for the match, with Queensland once again donning a maroon jersey, as it did in its home clash against the Waratahs last year.
“New South Wales have been one of our main rivals throughout Queensland’s history and it is always a great occasion, made even more special by the fact we’re playing at the Sydney Cricket Ground,” Thorn said.
“The guys love that we’re playing in the maroon jersey again. It would be good to see more of it in the future.”
15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Will Miller, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson
Substitutes: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Lalakai Foketi, 23 Cameron Clark
15 Aidan Toua, 14 Filipo Daugunu, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Izaia Perese, 10 Jono Lance, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Caleb Timu, 7 Liam Wright, 6 Lukhan Tui, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Ruan Smith, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 James Slipper (captain)
Substitutes: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 JP Smith, 18 Sef Fa’agase, 19 Adam Korczyk, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Jordan Petaia