Karmichael Hunt to play first game since cocaine charges

REDS coach Richard Graham will resist the temptation to start Karmichael Hunt in his return from a cocaine suspension against the Rebels at AAMI Park tonight.

Hunt has not played since Queensland's first-round loss to the Brumbies in Canberra in mid-February, following his guilty plea to cocaine possession charges.

Lachie Turner has performed strongly at fullback and will retain his position for the must-win clash against Melbourne.

"Karmichael has trained with the team for the last two weeks and comes back in via the bench," Graham said.

"I think Turner's done a really good job at fullback and deserves to retain that position, but Karmichael will see some game time at some point."

Open-side flanker Liam Gill also returns to the starting line-up, after serving a two-game suspension for his back-slam tackle on ACT halfback Nic White, in the rematch at Suncorp Stadium last month.

"I'm super excited. It's tough to sit on the sidelines and watch all your teammates play," Gill said.

"We understand how crucial it is to get a win, so everyone goes in with the right attitude."

Greg Holmes will resume duty at tight-head prop after missing the first five games of the season because of a broken thumb.

He came off the bench in the 18-17 loss to the Lions last week.

Holmes and fellow front-rowers James Hanson and captain James Slipper face a massive test against the Rebels' trio of Toby Smith, Pat Leafa and Paul Alo-Emile, who has taken over at tight-head from the injured Laurie Weeks.

Prop Sam Talakai has dropped out of the match-day 23, with Sef Faagase coming onto the reserves bench.

In other games, the Hurricanes will host the Stormers in Wellington tonight.

Tomorrow night, the Chiefs will take on the Blues in Hamilton, the Brumbies face the Cheetahs in Canberra and the Sharks will play the Crusaders in Durban.

On Sunday morning (AEST) the Lions will host the Bulls in Johannesburg.

The Highlanders, Waratahs and Force all have the bye.



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