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Harry Wilson and James O’Connor return to the Reds’ starting XV

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Wallabies Harry Wilson and James O’Connor will return to the Queensland Reds’ starting side when they take on the Highlanders in a crunch clash on Friday night.


Make no mistake, this is a must-win match for both teams. The Highlanders currently sit just outside the top eight in ninth, while the Reds sit in seventh.

But that it can all change this weekend. Only four competition points separate the trans-Tasman rivals, and including this week there’s only two rounds left in the regular season.

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Finals are practically within reach for the Reds, but they’ll want to get the job done in Dunedin – and they’ve called upon some talented reinforcements.

As well as Wilson and O’Connor, Reds coach Brad Thorn has also named rising star Tom Lynagh in the No. 10 jersey for the first time since round 10. In total, the Reds have made six changes to the first XV.

“It’s an important game on Friday night with both sides pushing towards finals. We expect it to be a quality contest,” Thorn said in a statement.

“The Highlanders are always a strong opposition with some great players and passionate fans in Dunedin.


“We’re pleased to welcome Hunter back. He’s been working hard and will bring impact as a finisher.”

Peni Ravai, Matt Faessler and Zane Nonggorr will pack down in the front row, while Angus Blyth and Connor Vest make up the rest of the tight five.


The Reds have named a familiar looking backrow this week, with Liam Wright and Fraser McReight both named on the flanks – Wilson will start at the back of the scrum.

As for the backline, Wallaby Tate McDermott will look to continue his promising form when he lines up in the halves alongside Tom Lynagh.


The pair will look to get the most out of an exciting backline, which includes another rising star in Mac Grealy on the left wing.

James O’Connor will start at inside centre, and will combine with Josh Flook in the midfield. Wallabies Suliasi Vunivalu and Jock Campbell have also been named in the run-on side.

On the bench, Hunter Paisami has been named for his first match since recovering from a medial ligament injury.

This match is set to get underway at 5.05pm AEST on Friday at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Reds team to take on Highlanders

  1. Peni Ravai
  2. Matt Faessler
  3. Zane Nonggorr
  4. Angus Blyth
  5. Connor Vest
  6. Liam Wright
  7. Fraser McReight
  8. Harry Wilson
  9. Tate McDermott
  10. Tom Lynagh
  11. Mac Grealy
  12. James O’Connor
  13. Josh Flook
  14. Suliasi Vunivalu
  15. Jock Campbell


  1. Richie Asiata
  2. Dane Zander
  3. Sef Fa’agase
  4. Jake Upfield
  5. Seru Uru
  6. Kalani Thomas
  7. Lawson Creighton
  8. Hunter Paisami


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