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O'Connor to start as Reds host dangerous Drua

By Kim Ekin
Tate McDermott and James O'Connor. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

In what will be Queensland’s first appearance at Suncorp Stadium in 2023, James O’Connor will return to the starting side at flyhalf after making a successful comeback from injury via the bench, while Taj Annan will make his first Super Rugby start at inside centre.

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Jock Campbell will also return to the run-on team at fullback, with the Queensland forward pack remaining unchanged after last week’s narrow loss to the Brumbies in Canberra.

Head coach Brad Thorn said: “We’re excited to be back at Suncorp this week. We love playing in front of our Queensland fans.

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“The Drua are coming off a memorable win in Fiji. They’re a great attacking team and can hurt you from anywhere on the field.

“It should be a great afternoon with some fast, attacking Rugby on display.”

Campbell’s return to the number-15 jersey sees Jordan Petaia shift to the wing to partner Filipo Daugunu out wide, while Suliasi Vunivalu is set to provide firepower off the bench.

Annan will pair with Josh Flook in the centres after Hunter Paisami was ruled out with concussion.

Co-captain Tate McDermott and James O’Connor will reprise their partnership in the halves, while fellow skipper Liam Wright, Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson make for a settled backrow trio.

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Seru Uru will look to recreate his heroics in last year’s fixture, with the lock scoring a crucial try and snatching a lineout steal in the final minutes to secure the win over the Drua in 2022. He’ll combine with Ryan Smith in the second row.

Dane Zander, Matt Faessler and Zane Nonggorr start in the front row in what will be Queensland’s second fixture against the Drua in Super Rugby Pacific.

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The competition will celebrate its inaugural ‘Kids Round’ this weekend, with youngsters set to flood Suncorp Stadium for the family-friendly Sunday afternoon game.

Reds team to take on the Drua:

1. Dane Zander

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2. Matt Faessler

3. Zane Nonggorr

4. Ryan Smith

5. Seru Uru

6. Liam Wright (cc)

7. Fraser McReight

8. Harry Wilson

9. Tate McDermott

10. James O’Connor

11. Filipo Daugunu

12. Taj Annan*

13. Josh Flook

14. Jordan Petaia

15. Jock Campbell

Replacements:

16. Richie Asiata

17. Sef Fa’agase

18. Peni Ravai

19. Jake Upfield

20. Connor Vest

21. Kalani Thomas

22. Tom Lynagh

23. Suliasi Vunivalu

*denotes Queensland and Super Rugby Pacific starting debut

Via Queensland Reds/Press Release

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