The Reds have made two changes to their starting line-up to take on the Highlanders in their Super Rugby clash in Brisbane on Saturday.
The run-on side includes the return of Wallaby prop James Slipper, who also resumes the captaincy, and Chris Feauai-Sautia, who is back the wing after missing the last match due to illness.
This is Slipper’s first start in 2016, after missing four rounds of competition due to knee and shoulder surgery following the 2015 Rugby World Cup. His first match of the season was as a replacement against the Waratahs in Round 5.
“It’s good to be able to welcome James (Slipper) back to the starting side,” said Reds co-interim head coach Matt O’Connor.
“He’s worked hard to get himself back on the field and was very pleased to get some minutes against the Waratahs. You want your most experienced players on the field and James will offer plenty of leadership on Saturday.
“The team returned from the bye with a lot of enthusiasm for the challenge that awaits us on Saturday. The Highlanders are a dangerous team and we know we cannot afford to give them opportunities.
“We have grown in our performances each week and know it will take nothing short of our best to knock off the defending champions. We look forward to the challenge.”
Highlanders boss Jamie Joseph has made several changes to his starting line-up for Saturday’s clash with the Reds in Brisbane.
Loosehead prop Brendan Edmonds has been sidelined for the season with a serious knee injury. Daniel Lienert-Brown comes off the bench to replace Edmonds and will start in his seventeenth game for the club.
Tasman prop Ross Geldenhuys returns to the matchday 23, and together with Josh Hohneck, will provide a great depth of experience on the reserves bench.
A head laceration sustained in last week’s game has ruled Elliot Dixon out for the week, which will make way for Luke Whitelock to return to the starting team while Dan Pryor rotates to the bench for co-captain Shane Christie.
After a week off to refresh Mark Reddish will start ahead of Tom Franklin at lock.
A concussion to co-captain Ben Smith will see him miss his first game of the season with Matt Faddes moving from wing to full-back and Jack Wilson, who had an impressive debut against the Melbourne Rebels, will start on the right wing in just his second outing for the club.
Lima Sopoaga returns from injury to again partner with Aaron Smith and Hayden Parker will make his impact from the bench this week.
Reds: 15 Karmichael Hunt 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Anthony Fainga’a, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 James Slipper (c)
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Ben Matwijow, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Scott Gale, 22 Sam Greene, 23 Ayumu Goromaru
Highlanders: 15 Matt Faddes, 14 Jack Wilson, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Pat Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Shane Christie (c), 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Mark Reddish, 3 Siosiua Halanukonuka, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Ross Geldenhuys, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Tom Franklin, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Jason Emery
Date: Saturday, April 9
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 19:40 local (09:40 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)