Thorn makes three changes to Reds starting XV to play Stormers

QLD Reds coach Brad Thorn has made three changes to his starting XV ahead of this weekend’s clash against the Stormers in Cape Town.

Hooker Alex Mafi has been named in the starting side for the first time this season, with Brandon Paenga-Amosa shifting to the bench and Andrew Ready dropping out of the side.

Scrumhalf Ben Lucas has also been given his first start of the season, with Tate McDermott returning to the match-day 23 as reserve scrumhalf and James Tuttle dropping out.

Duncan Paia’aua is back in the starting inside centre jersey. His return has prompted a shuffle in the backline, with Samu Kerevi moving to outside centre, Chris Feauai-Sautia to the wing and Eto Nabuli to the bench.

Regular Reds captain Scott Higginbotham will make his return from suspension via the reserves, leaving Slipper to skipper the side for another week. Higginbotham’s return sees youngster Liam Wright drop out of the 23 for the first time this year.

Prop Sef Fa’agase has also been brought onto the bench for this match, in place of Ruan Smith, who made his Queensland debut last weekend and will play alongside James Slipper in his 100th Super Rugby match.

“This is a really special match for James Slipper. He has been at Ballymore for more than a decade and the opportunity to play 100 games for your home state is significant. The occasion isn’t lost on anyone. We want to put in a performance we can all be proud of,” Thorn said.

“We’ve made some changes to the side again. I’ve said a number of times we’re a work in progress and the benefit of this squad is there’s genuine depth and competition for spots.

“Alex (Mafi) has been doing a good job off the bench and we wanted to give him the chance to start. It’s a similar situation with Ben (Lucas). He brought good energy and experience to the field when he came on last week and that will be important this weekend.

“Chris (Feauai-Sautia) and Samu (Kerevi) have been doing a really good job in the centres but this is an opportunity for Duncan (Paia’aua) and a chance to get all three in the backline together.

“The Stormers are a tough team and we’ve had a difficult week with the travel from Argentina, but the guys are clear what their job is this weekend.”

The Reds play the Stormers at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town at 1:15am AEST this Sunday 25 March.

Queensland Reds team to play Stormers

1. James Slipper (C) – Bond University (100th Queensland/SR cap)
2. Alex Mafi – Bond University
3. Taniela Tupou – Brothers
4. Izack Rodda – Easts
5. Kane Douglas – Norths
6. Angus Scott-Young – University of Queensland
7. Adam Korczyk – University of Queensland
8. Caleb Timu – Souths
9. Ben Lucas – Sunnybank
10. Jono Lance – University of Queensland
11. Chris Feauai-Sautia – Souths
12. Duncan Paia’aua – Norths
13. Samu Kerevi – Souths
14. Filipo Daugunu – Wests
15. Aidan Toua – Easts

16. Brandon Paenga-Amosa – Sunnybank
17. JP Smith – GPS
18. Sef Fa’agase – University of Queensland
19. Harry Hockings – University of Queensland
20. Scott Higginbotham – Wests
21. Tate McDermott – University of Queensland
22. Hamish Stewart – Bond University
23. Eto Nabuli – GPS