Reds, Rebels bring out big guns
PRE-SEASON PREVIEW: The Reds have named a 29-man squad for their pre-season match against the Melbourne Rebels at Ballymore Stadium on Tuesday.
The match is the Reds' final pre-season hit out, following their participation in the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens tournament at Suncorp Stadium over the weekend.
Head coach Nick Stiles has named a strong side for the match, featuring eight Wallabies in the starting side. The squad also features an extended bench of 14 players.
"It's great to finally reach the point in our pre-season preparations where we get to see the benefits of all our hard work," Stiles said.
"We've put so much work into our pre-season and there's a genuine sense of excitement amongst the team. We can't wait for tomorrow night [Tuesday].
"We've named a near-full strength side for the trial because it's our last hit out before Super Rugby. It's time to put into practice what we've worked on.
"We went into the pre-season knowing we had the tens and that was a good hit out, but now we shift our focus to this trial and the opening round of Super Rugby."
Meanwhile, Wallabies Toby Smith, James Hanson and Reece Hodge, along with flank Colby Fainga'a, have been included in the Rebels' starting line-up for the trial match.
The quartet have been named in the 26-player squad after they were rested from the pre-season game against the Western Force at Bond University on the Gold Coast on Monday last week.
New recruit Amanaki Mafi, named at No.8, will make his first outing in Rebels colours in the traditional format following the Japanese international's appearance at the weekend's Brisbane Global Rugby Tens.
Lock Murray Douglas will return to action from the reserves bench after a hand injury sidelined him for the Brisbane Tens.
The trial match will conclude the Rebels pre-season before the team returns to Melbourne on Wednesday morning to prepare for the opening round of the 2017 Super Rugby season next week.
Reds: 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Izaia Perese, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Duncan Paia'aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Adam Korczyk, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper (captain).
Replacements - from: Andrew Ready, Markus Vanzati, Sef Fa'agase, Lukhan Tui, Michael Gunn, James Tuttle, Jake McIntyre, Chris Kuridrani, Izack Rodda, Scott Higginbotham, Henry Taefu, Tyrone Lefau, Lachlan Maranta, Jayden Ngamanu.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Jonah Placid, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Lopeti Timani, 5 Steve Cummins, 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements - from: Jordan Uelese, Cruze Ah-Nau, Tyrel Lomax, Murray Douglas, Jordy Reid, Ben Meehan, Sione Tuipulotu, Jack Debreczeni, Jake Schatz, Dennis Pili-Gaitau, Ben Volavola.
Date: Tuesday, February 14
Venue: Ballymore Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 18.30 (08.30 GMT)
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Damon Murphy (Australia)