Captain James Slipper has been named to start for the Queensland Reds for the first time this Super Rugby season when they host defending champions the Highlanders on Saturday.
Wallabies prop Slipper, who had surgery on his shoulder in the off-season, made his season debut for the Reds off the bench in their loss to the NSW Waratahs before last weekend’s bye.
“He’s worked hard to get himself back on the field and was very pleased to get some minutes against the Waratahs,” interim co-coach Matt O’Connor said.
“You want your most experienced players on the field and James will offer plenty of leadership on Saturday.”
With flanker Liam Gill and now Slipper back to full fitness, the Reds are only missing lock Kane Douglas (knee) from their full-strength side.
The only other change made by the Reds is the return of winger Chris Feauai-Sautia, who missed the clash with NSW due to illness and replaces Junior Laliofi.
“The Highlanders are a dangerous team and we know we cannot afford to give them opportunities,” O’Connor said.
“We have grown in our performances each week and know it will take nothing short of our best to knock off the defending champions.”
Queensland Reds: Karmichael Hunt, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi, Anthony Fainga’a, Eto Nabuli, Jake McIntyre, Nick Frisby, Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Hendrik Tui, Rob Simmons, Cadeyrn Neville, Greg Holmes, Andrew Ready, James Slipper (c). Res: Saia Fainga’a, Sef Fa’agase, Sam Talakai, Ben Matwijow, Curtis Browning, Scott Gale, Sam Greene, Ayumu Goromaru.