The St.George Queensland Reds have made four changes to their starting XV for Saturday’s match against the Lions in Johannesburg.
Utility back James O’Connor switches from inside-centre to flyhalf in what will be his second start in the Reds’ number-10 jersey after he made his Queensland debut in the same position back in Round 3 of the 2015 Super Rugby season.
Hamish Stewart comes off the bench and slots into the vacant number-12 spot, while lock Izack Rodaa will also earn his first start of the season.
Alex Mafi will start at hooker following an ankle injury to Brandon Paenga-Amosa during last week’s clash in Canberra.
Following consultation with a surgeon in Brisbane, Paenga-Amosa will be sidelined for the next six-to-eight weeks after suffering ligament damage.
In one-of-four changes to the bench, potential Super Rugby debutant Sean Farrell comes into the 23 as a replacement at hooker
Prop Josh Nasser has also been brought-in this week, and like Farrell, could possibly make his Queensland debut as well.
While lock Angus Blyth and utility back Isaac Lucas will both come-on as finishers in Saturday’s Round 2 fixture.
Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “We’ve got a tough game against the Lions at Ellis Park. They’ve been a good side over the past half-decade, and it’ll be a tough contest.
“We arrived in Johannesburg reasonably early after the Brumbies game. Since being here we’ve been acclimatising and started our preparation.
“As far as this trip – a round the world trip, no other sport really does it, let alone a contact sport. So, if you can get a victory on this trip you can call that a success,” said Thorn.
Queensland play the Lions on Saturday night at 11:05pm AEST and will be broadcast live on Fox Sports.
The Reds next travel to Argentina to take on the Jaguares in the final leg of their three-week road trip, before returning home to host the Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday 22 February.
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St.George Queensland Reds v Lions – Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg on 8 February at 11:05pm AEST
1. JP Smith – GPS
2. Alex Mafi – Bond University
3. Taniela Tupou – Brothers
4. Izack Rodda – Easts
5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto – Souths
6. Angus Scott-Young – University of Queensland
7. Liam Wright © – Easts
8. Harry Wilson – Brothers
9. Tate McDermott – University of Queensland
10. James O’Connor – Brothers
11. Henry Speight – Bond University
12. Hamish Stewart – Brothers
13. Jordan Petaia – Wests
14. Jock Campbell – University of Queensland
15. Bryce Hegarty – GPS
16. Sean Farrell* – Souths
17. Dane Zander – Norths
18. Josh Nasser* – University of Queensland
19. Angus Blyth – Bond University
20. Seru Uru – Easts
21. Moses Sorovi – Wests
22. Isaac Lucas - Sunnybank
23. Hunter Paisami – Wests
*denotes potential Super Rugby and Queensland debut