McReight to start for new-look Reds

Fraser McReight is set to start for the new-look Queensland outfit in Super Rugby AU.
Fraser McReight is set to start for the new-look Queensland outfit in Super Rugby AU.

Queensland Reds have shown off their backrow depth by elevating highly rated flanker Fraser McReight for his first start when the side launches Super Rugby AU on Friday night.

The Reds were rocked by the departures of Izack Rodda, Harry Hockings and Isaac Lucas due to a pay dispute during the competition's shut down.

But they will still field a strong side against the NSW Waratahs in the new-look domestic competition, with McReight promoted and Angus Blyth to start at lock in Rodda's absence.

Captain Liam Wright will shift to blindside flanker to accommodate former Junior Wallabies captain McReight, who had been forced to earn his minutes off the bench before the season stalled.

In-form No.8 Harry Wilson used the break to recover from a knee injury and will complete a backrow that has an average age of 21.

"We've been mixing and matching throughout training ... it's a really good combo and we've got Angus Scott Young there too on the bench, so great competition for spots," coach Brad Thorn said.

Wright is confident it won't force him into a corner.

"The only real change is me taking on more of a lineout role, which i'm looing forward to, I've always fancied it," the captain said.

"It allows us to unleash with that real good combination in the backrow with me, Harry and Fraser and we will try and get around as much of the field as we can."

Lock Tuaina Taii Tualima is another benefactor of Rodda and Hockings' exit, named on the bench and chasing a debut alongside outside-back Josh Flook.

Thorn said Jordan Petaia (shoulder) was about one month away from a return, but Hunter Paisami (knee) has been cleared to resume his damaging ways in the centres alongside Hamish Stewart.

Bryce Hegarty has been recalled at fullback, with Jock Campbell sent to the wing and James O'Connor reuniting with Tate McDermott in the halves.

The Reds have lost their last 11 games against the Waratahs, who will arrive without injured Wallabies trio Karmichael Hunt, Jake Gordon and Tom Robertson.

Queensland Reds: Bryce Hegarty, Jock Campbell, Hunter Paisami, Hamish Stewart, Filipo Daugunu, James O'Connor, Tate McDermott, Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight, Liam Wright, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Angus Blyth, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Harry Hoopert. Reserves: Alex Mafi, JP Smith, Josh Nasser, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Angus Scott Young, Scott Malolua, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Josh Flook.

Australian Associated Press