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James O'Connor returns for Reds alongside specialist goal-kicker as Brad Thorn makes six changes

By Online Editors
(Photo by Daniel Jayo/Getty Images)

The return of Wallabies star James O’Connor is one of six changes to the Queensland Reds starting XV for Saturday’s Super Rugby clash against the Bulls.

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O’Connor has been named at five-eighth after missing last weekend’s 24-20 loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch because of an ankle injury.

Hunter Paisami’s knee injury has forced Reds coach Brad Thorn into backline reshuffle.

Chris Feauai-Sautia will cover Paisami at outside centre with Bryce Hegarty coming into the starting team on the right wing.

Hegarty’s return should also resolve the Reds’ goalkicking woes after missing four attempts from four in the narrow loss to the Crusaders.

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Thorn has also made changes in the forward pack with prop Dane Zander to make his first Super Rugby start.

Angus Blyth joins Harry Hockings in the second row with Lukhan Salakaia-Loto moving back to No.6.

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On the bench, Harry Hoopert returns while Isaac Lucas shifts out of the starting line-up after filling in for O’Connor last weekend.

Both the Reds and Bulls have one win each this season and will be eager to keep their finals ambitions alive with a victory in Saturday’s match.

Reds: Dane Zander, Alex Mafi, Taniela Tupou, Angus Blyth, Harry Hockings, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Liam Wright (capt), Harry Wilson, Scott Malolua, James O’Connor, Henry Speight, Hamish Stewart, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Bryce Hegarty, Jock Campbell. Reserves: Ed Craig, Harry Hoopert, Josh Nasser, Angus Scott-Young, Fraser McReight, Tate McDermott, Isaac Lucas, Filipo Daugunu.

– AAP

WATCH: A former Wales skipper has blasted Joe Marler’s behaviour in the Six Nations clash between England and Wales.

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finn 9 hours ago
Massive red flag raised by weakened Champions Cup teams – Andy Goode

I wonder if the problem of some teams not taking it that seriously would be helped by making performance in the champions cup count towards qualification and/or seeding in the following year’s competition. Eg. top four seeds would be winners of the URC, premiership, and top 14, plus best performing team in the previous year’s CC who have not otherwise qualified. Doing that the seedings for this years comp. would have been: Tier one: Saracens - Munster - Toulouse - la Rochelle Tier two: Sale - Stormers - Racing 92 - Leinster Tier three: Leicester - Connacht - Bordeaux - Exeter Tier four: Northampton - Ulster - Lyon - Sharks Tier five: Harlequins - Glasgow - Stade Francais - Edinburgh Tier six: Bath - Bulls - Toulon - Ospreys The competition would probably work better with fewer teams, so I’d probably favour only the first 4 tiers being invited, and then going straight to a quarter final without a round of 16. On the one hand this would possibly incentivise teams to take the champions cup seriously, and on the other it would mean that the latter stages would be more likely to involve teams that have demonstrated a willingness to take the competition seriously. The main differences between my proposed system and the actual draw is that mine would give la Rochelle a fairly easy ride to the quarters, and would either exclude the Bulls entirely or would give then an insurmountably difficult draw. As it happened Exeter got quite an easy pool draw but that was a bit of a fluke. My system would reward Exeter for being one of the teams that demonstrably devote a lot of attention to the CC by guaranteeing them a good draw.

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