Wallabies great George Smith is set to play for the Queensland Reds for the first time this season in the Super Rugby clash with New Zealand’s Chiefs at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
The 37-year-old Smith has been named on the Reds bench for his return from back surgery late last year.
Facing their first Kiwi opposition of the season, the Reds have also been boosted by the return from injury of blockbusting prop Taniela Tupou and halfback Ben Lucas, both restored to the starting team.
Injury to Lukhan Tui has prompted a backrow reshuffle with Angus Scott-Young taking his place at blindside flanker.
With a 3-4 record following a comprehensive 37-16 loss to the NSW Waratahs, the Reds need a win to stay in touch with the Waratahs and Brumbies in the Australian conference but are likely to find it hard against an exciting Chiefs team with a 5-2 record.
Coach Brad Thorn relished the chance to throw 111-Test veteran openside flanker Smith into the match.
“It’s great to see the old master return,” said Thorn. “He brings experience and composure as well as being a real threat at the breakdown.
“Everyone is excited to be back at Suncorp Stadium. It’s been six weeks since we’ve had the opportunity to play at home, in front of our friends, family and fans.”
Queensland Reds team: Aidan Toua, Filipo Daugunu, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi, Izaia Perese, Jono Lance, Ben Lucas, Caleb Timu, Liam Wright, Angus Scott-Young, Kane Douglas, Izack Rodda, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, James Slipper (capt). Res: Alex Mafi, JP Smith, Ruan Smith, Harry Hockings, George Smith, Moses Sorovi, Hamish Stewart, Jordan Petaia.
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