Reds debutants ready to rumble against Brumbies
QUEENSLAND coach Richard Graham will start with three debutants - including code-hopper Karmichael Hunt - in his team's season-opening clash against the ACT at Canberra Stadium tonight.
Prop Sam Talakai, lock Marco Kotze and five-eighth Hunt will earn their first Super Rugby caps.
Reds coach Richard Graham said he had no problems starting Hunt in the playmaker's position, despite his rawness in the 15-man code.
The Queensland mentor was reluctant to start marquee import and Wallaby James O'Connor in the No.10 jersey, after sickness and knee issues plagued his pre-season.
Former All Blacks back-rower Adam Thomson will also not be risked as he is still recovering from a shoulder injury.
Graham said he had peace of mind not rushing those two big names into his team for tonight's clash.
"I felt we were rushed with both of them and with another 15 round games to go after this, it'd be foolish to risk them," he said.
Eight Queensland players were unavailable, including in-form pair Anthony Fainga'a (knee) and Beau Robinson (calf), who both picked up injuries in last week's trial win over the Crusaders.
Reds halfback Will Genia will play his 100th Super Rugby match tonight.
For the Brumbies, Rory Arnold (lock), James Dargaville (wing, bench) and Lausii Taliauli (outside backs, bench) will make their Super Rugby debuts.
The trio will join three other big names returning from injury, with David Pocock set to captain the side, while club captain Stephen Moore and Tongan Ita Vaea will also feature on the bench.
Meanwhile, the Melbourne Rebels, who enjoyed some strong trial form with wins over the Reds and Highlanders, will need to be at their best against last year's runners-up the Crusaders, in Christchurch tonight. Former Reds and Wallabies Mike Harris and Dom Shipperley are in line to make their debuts for the Rebels.
BRUMBIES v REDS
6.40pm (Qld time)