- Brumbies v Reds
- Friday 31 January, 9.15pm NZT at GIO Stadium, Canberra
- Played: 33
- Won: Brumbies 24, Reds 8, Draw 1
- Last match: Brumbies 40, Reds 27 (15 June 2019)
The Brumbies were head and shoulders above their Australian conference opponents in 2019 but face a tough challenge against a rising Reds side in round one.
Brumbies head coach Dan McKellar has named four debutants in his side that will face the Reds in their Super Rugby opener in Canberra on Friday.
Academy product Noah Lolesio gets first chance in the number 10 jersey on debut while NRL convert Solomone Kata will also make his first Super Rugby appearance, starting on the wing after a strong performance in the side’s trial match against the Melbourne Rebels in Albury last week.
Returning Canberra local Harry Lloyd and young fly-half Bayley Kuenzle are in line to make their Super Rugby debuts off the bench with former Rebels and Waratahs back-row Will Miller and home-again lock Caderyn Neville selected to represent the Brumbies jersey for the first time.
Towering duo Murray Douglas and Darcy Swain will get the first opportunity to partner in the second-row with Allan Alaalatoa to lead the side out at GIO Stadium after being unveiled as the side’s captain last week.
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said: “It’s always a hard decision to pick just 23 players out of a squad that’s been working so hard during preseason.”
“I’m really pleased for the guys that are going to make their debuts on Friday night. Noah and Harry have both come through the Brumbies academy, while Bayley has been waiting for a opportunity for some time and Sol has been really impressive since arriving in Canberra.
“As a team we’re really looking forward to opening our season in front of our home supporters, our region has been going through a tough time and we have an opportunity to make them smile on Friday night at GIO Stadium.”
Wallabies wing Henry Speight is set to make his Super Rugby debut for the Reds in their season opener against his former side, the Brumbies, in Canberra on Friday.
Up to five players could make their first starts for the Reds with young back-row Harry Wilson also named in the starting line-up at number eight.
Following standout performances in Queensland Premier Rugby that led to selection with Brisbane City in the National Rugby Championship (NRC) last year, Queensland pathway trio Dane Zander, Seru Uru and Hunter Paisami could potentially also make their 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.
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.
Head coach Brad Thorn said: “We’re excited for the season to start. 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.”
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Solomone Kata, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Murray Douglas, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (c), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Harry Lloyd, 18 James Slipper, 19 Caderyn Neville, 20 Will Miller, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Bayley Kuenzle, 23 Andy Muirhead
Reds: 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Jock Campbell, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 James O’Connor, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Isaac Lucas, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Liam Wright (c), 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Angus Blyth, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 JP Smith
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Dane Zander, 18 Feao Fotuaika, 19 Izack Rodda, 20 Seru Uru, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Hunter Paisami
Date: Friday, January 31
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19:15 local (08:15 GMT)
Referee: AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)