The Queensland Reds have made just one change ahead of Saturday’s Super Rugby season closer against the NSW Waratahs.
Chris Kuridrani comes into the side and replaces winger Chris Feauai-Sautia (concussion), while coach Richard Graham has named an extended 10-man bench with two players to be omitted.
The irony of his squad’s now settled nature is not lost on Graham or the Reds, who have been bashed from pillar to post with injuries this year but find themselves fit, firing and at full-strength with only one game left.
“We made enough changes in the first 16 rounds to last a number of seasons,” Graham said.
“There hasn’t been a lot of change (this week). I wanted to give the players an opportunity to develop combinations and confidence as we look to finish the season with a win in Sydney.”
Graham said he was yet to determine the make-up of his bench, which includes rookie flyhalf Jake McIntyre, halfback Nick Frisby, hooker Saia Fainga’a and New Zealand-born Japanese international Hendrik Tui, who made his Super Rugby debut in last week’s loss to the Chiefs.
“I went with a six-two split last week given the threat the Chiefs provide in the forward pack,” he said.
“I might look to run that way again but I’ll see how we are after our session Saturday morning.”
Saturday’s clash is the 300th meeting in rugby union between Queensland and NSW, adding a historic element to a rivalry Graham said is always full of expectation.
“I spoke to the players earlier in the week about last impressions,” he said.
“It will be the last opportunity in 2015 they have to leave strong memories with their teammates, the rest of the competition and more importantly with the people who support them each week.
“We have a responsibility to make sure our performance is physical, is accurate and is 80 minutes.”
Reds: James O’Connor, Chris Kuridrani, Karmichael Hunt, Samu Kerevi, Lachie Turner, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Adam Thomson, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Greg Holmes, James Hanson, James Slipper. Res: Saia Fainga’a, Pettowa Paraka, Sam Talakai, Ed O’Donoghue, Beau Robinson, Hendrik Tui, Nick Frisby, Jake McIntyre, Ben Tapuai, Jamie-Jerry Taulagi (two to be omitted)