Rob Simmons will make his return from a shoulder injury in Queensland’s Super Rugby clash with the Stormers on Saturday in Cape Town.
Lock Simmons comes into the side after missing last week’s loss to the Bulls, but Cadeyrn Neville has been moved to the bench to make way for him – not Ben Matwijow as expected.
Neville, recruited from the Melbourne Rebels in the off-season, has started every match for the Reds so far this year, but has been surprisingly demoted with Matwijow – after making his run-on debut against the Bulls – retained in the starting line-up.
“He stepped up, handled the extra responsibility well last weekend and deserves another opportunity,” interim co-coach Matt O’Connor said.
Injury has forced the Reds into one other change with No.8 Jake Schatz (knee) replaced by versatile back-rower Curtis Browning.
O’Connor described Browning as a more-than-capable replacement for Schatz, who flew back to Brisbane this week and is set to miss at least the next month of rugby after going down early in the Bulls defeat.
Meanwhile, former Brisbane NRL prospect Duncan Paia’aua is in line for his first appearance since the opening round of last season after being named as an addition to the bench, along with flanker Michael Gunn.
Paia’aua was thrust into the Super Rugby limelight last year by then-coach Richard Graham, who threw him into the five-eighth role as an emergency stop-gap for Quade Cooper.
He struggled in the unfamiliar position and, after suffering a series of concussions, wasn’t seen again at Super Rugby level.
O’Connor said the Reds were under no illusions how tough the Stormers, current South African conference leaders, would be.
Queensland have only won twice at Newlands, and not since 2011.
“The Stormers have been the most-consistent South African team over the last couple of years and we know how good we’ll have to perform to get the result at Newlands on Saturday,” he said.
Reds: Karmichael Hunt, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi, Anthony Fainga’a, Eto Nabuli, Jake McIntyre, Nick Frisby, Curtis Browning, Liam Gill, Hendrik Tui, Rob Simmons, Ben Matwijow, Greg Holmes, Andrew Ready, James Slipper (capt). Res: Saia Fainga’a, Sef Fa’agase, Sam Talakai, Cadeyrn Neville, Michael Gunn, James Tuttle, Duncan Paiaaua, Ayumu Goromaru.