Queensland Reds will look to extend their three-match unbeaten streak against Melbourne Rebels when the two sides clash at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
The Reds enter Round 2 of Super Rugby AU as ladder leaders after downing arch-rivals NSW Waratahs 41-7 last weekend and can solidify their place atop the table with another win over the Rebels.
Wallaby prop Taniela Tupou has been recalled from the bench in the only change to Brad Thorn’s starting lineup while league recruit Suliasi Vunivalu is set to debut from the bench.
Meanwhile, the Melbourne side head into this year’s Super Rugby AU full of expectation after making their maiden finals appearance last season.
The Rebels enjoyed a Round 1 bye last week and will look to avenge their 25-13 qualifying final loss to Queensland with an upset win in Brisbane.
Melbourne coach Dave Wessels remains without regular captain Dane Haylett-Petty after Wallaby playmaker Matt Toomua was named as interim skipper, however the Rebels boast a strong side featuring Marika Koroibete, Jordan Uelese and Reece Hodge.
REDS: (1-15): Dane Zander, Alex Mafi, Taniela Tupou, Angus Blyth, Seru Uru, Angus Scott-Young, Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott, James O'Connor (c), Filipo Daugunu, Hamish Stewart, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, Jock Campbell
Reserves: Josh Nasser, Harry Hoopert, Feao Fotuaika, Ryan Smith, Sam Wallis, Moses Sorovi, Bryce Hegarty, Suliasi Vunivalu
INs: Josh Nasser, Sam Wallis, Suliasi Vunivalu
OUTs: Richie Asiata, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Ilaisa Droasese
REBELS (1-15): Cabous Eloff, Jordan Uelese, Pone Faamausili, Steve Cummins, Trevor Hosea, Brad Wilkin, Richard Hardwick, Michael Wells, Joe Powell, Matt To'omua (c), Marika Koroibete, Reece Hodge, Stacey Ili, Lachlan Anderson, Tom Pincus
Reserves: Ed Craig, Isaac Aedo Kailea, Rhys van Nek, Rob Leota, Josh Kemeny, James Tuttle, Glen Vaihu, Frank Lomani
In Saturday’s Round 2 clash, ACT Brumbies will host the NSW Waratahs at GIO Stadium.
The Brumbies opened their Super Rugby AU title defence with a comfortable 27-11 win over the Western Force last weekend and return to Canberra as firm favourites against Rob Penney’s side.
Test playmakers Nic White and Noah Lolesio orchestrated the Brumbies’s win in Perth and will steer the ship again while Connal McInerney’s addition for the injured Folau Fainga'a is the only change to Dan McKellar’s starting side.
Meanwhile, the Waratahs are facing a mammoth challenge with injuries and suspensions forcing a host of changes.
Centre Alex Newsome has been named stand-in captain for the injured Jake Gordon while Izaia Perese will miss three weeks after being suspended for a dangerous tackle in Round 1.
However, Lachie Swinton’s return from suspension is a welcome boost with the Test flanker joining Jack Dempsey and Carlo Tizzano in a dangerous backrow combination.
Western Force have the bye in Round 2.
BRUMBIES (1-15): James Slipper, Connal McInerney, Allan Alaalatoa (c), Darcy Swain, Cadeyrn Neville, Rob Valetini, Jahrome Brown, Pete Samu, Nic White, Noah Lolesio, Mack Hansen, Irae Simone, Len Ikitau, Andy Muirhead, Tom Banks
Reserves: Lachlan Lonergan, Harry Lloyd, Tom Ross, Nick Frost, Tom Cusack, Ryan Lonergan, Reesjan Pasitoa, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa
INs: Lachlan Lonergan
OUTs: Folau Fainga'a (toe)
WARATAHS (1-15): Angus Bell, Tom Horton, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Sam Caird, Jack Whetton, Lachlan Swinton, Carlo Tizzano, Jack Dempsey, Jack Grant, Will Harrison, James Ramm, Tepai Moeroa, Alex Newsome (c), Mark Nawaqanitawase, Jack Maddocks
Reserves: David Porecki, Tetera Faulkner, Sio Tatola, Jeremy Williams, Hugh Sinclair, Henry Robertson, Tane Edmed, Triston Reilly
INs: Lachlan Swinton, Tepai Moeroa, Triston Reilly, Henry Robertson
OUTs: Will Harris, Jake Gordon, Joey Walton, Izaia Perese