WARATAHS vs REDS, Saturday 7.45pm AEDT at Stadium Australia
Waratahs coach Rob Penney has made seven changes to his starting squad for what appears on paper to be a mission impossible against the undefeated Reds in Sydney.
Former Queensland center Izaia Perese is coming back from his three-game suspension – resumed in the first round against the Reds – to start inside center in a true show of faith from Penney.
He will team up with Lalakai Foketi in an all-new midfield pairing as captain Alex Newsome slips on the wing and NRL veteran Tepai Moeroa on 23 overall.
Injury to loose Wallabies forwards Jack Dempsey and Lachie Swinton necessitates a reshuffle as No.8 Will Harris takes a start and Hugh Sinclair goes from lock to flank on the blind side.
This opens up a starting spot for veteran lock Sam Wykes.
Meanwhile, Reds coach Brad Thorn also cobbled together four starting changes.
No.8 Wallabies Harry Wilson was given the role of ‘finisher’ this weekend with all-rounder Seru Uru getting his shot from the back of the scrum.
Ryan Smith gets his first start at the lock ahead of Angus Blyth, Filipo Daugunu returns to the left wing for Ilaisa Droasese and hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa is preferred in the XV to Alex Mafi.
“We look forward to a tough competition against the Waratahs in Sydney,” Thorn said.
“After a great preseason, Seru has been in very good shape and earned his chance to start this week.
“This will be Ryan Smith’s first Super Rugby start.
“It’s a good pay for his constant hard work in our program and its development.
“You also have Sam Wallis and Kalani Thomas on the bench who could make their Super Rugby debuts, which is exciting.
While at the other end, Angus Scott-Young will play his 50th game for Queensland.
“He’s a leader on and off the pitch and as a group we congratulate him on that achievement.”
WARATAHS (15-1): Jack Maddocks, Alex Newsome (c), Lalakai Foketi, Izaia Perese, James Ramm, Will Harrison, Jack Grant, Will Harris, Carlo Tizzano, Hugh Sinclair, Sam Caird, Sam Wykes, Te Tera Faulkner, Dave Porecki, Harry Johnson-Holmes
Reserves: Tom Horton, Angus Bell, Darcy Breen, Jeremy Williams, Max Douglas, Henry Robertson, Tane Edmed, Mark Nawaqanitawase
REDS (15-1): Jock Campbell, Suliasi Vunivalu, Jordan Petaia, Hunter Paisami, Filipo Daugunu, James O’Connor (c), Tate McDermott, Seru Uru, Fraser McReight, Angus Scott-Young, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Ryan Smith, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga -Amosa, Danish Zander
Reserves: Alex Mafi, Richie Asiata, Zane Nonggorr, Harry Wilson, Sam Wallis, Kalani Thomas, Hamish Stewart, Bryce Hegarty