Queensland Reds head coach Brad Thorn has named his first team of the 2020 Super Rugby season for the sides opening round clash against the Brumbies in Canberra.
Up to five players could make their Queensland debuts with Brothers backrower Harry Wilson named at number-eight and Henry Speight selected on the wing against his former club.
Following standout performances in Queensland Premier Rugby that led to selection with Brisbane City in the National Rugby Championship last year, Queensland pathway trio Dane Zander, Seru Uru, and Hunter Paisami could potentially also make their Queensland debuts after being named on the bench.
The Reds will be bolstered up-front with the return of props JP Smith and Feao Fotuaika from injury, while Izack Rodda will also make his comeback following routine off-season ankle surgery post the Rugby World Cup.
Queensland’s backline remains unchanged from last week’s pre-season win over the Waratahs in Dalby, with Isaac Lucas earning his second Super Rugby start in the number-10 jersey and James O’Connor partnering Jordan Petaia in an exciting centre-pairing combination.
Liam Wright will lead the team in his first Queensland-capped match as captain and will have the support of Rodda, Speight and Bryce Hegarty as part of the Reds leadership group this season.
“We’re excited for the season to start,” Thorn said.
“We have the Brumbies first-up and we look forward to a tough contest.
“Dalby and Gladstone had us for two trial games which were important hit-outs leading into the season.
“Five guys could make their Queensland debuts on Friday night which is an awesome thing to recognise.
“They’ve worked hard during the pre-season and deserve their selection.”
St.George Queensland Reds v Brumbies – GIO Stadium, Canberra on 31 January at 6:15pm AEST
1. JP Smith – GPS
2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa – Sunnybank
3. Taniela Tupou – Brothers
4. Angus Blyth – Bond University
5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto – Souths
6. Angus Scott-Young – University of Queensland
7. Liam Wright © – Easts
8. Harry Wilson* – Brothers
9. Tate McDermott – University of Queensland
10. Isaac Lucas – Sunnybank
11. Henry Speight* – Bond University
12. James O’Connor – Brothers
13. Jordan Petaia – Wests
14. Jock Campbell – University of Queensland
15. Bryce Hegarty – GPS
16. Alex Mafi – Bond University
17. Dane Zander** – Norths
18. Feao Fotuaika – GPS
19. Izack Rodda – Easts
20. Seru Uru** – Easts
21. Moses Sorovi – Wests
22. Hamish Stewart – Brothers
23. Hunter Paisami** – Wests
*denotes Queensland debut
**denotes potential Queensland debut