Jordan Petaia will return to the wing while Tate McDermott and Fraser McReight are back in the Queensland Reds’ starting side for their must-win date with Melbourne Rebels on Saturday.

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Petaia was a late scratching in last weekend’s heavy loss to the Waratahs following the sudden death of his father.

Coach Brad Thorn said Petaia’s return at Suncorp Stadium would reignite the side as they look to keep pace with the second-placed Rebels, who jumped ahead of the Reds thanks to their impressive last-round win over the Brumbies.

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With three games to play before finals, the Reds and Waratahs are equal third, three points behind the Rebels and seven behind the Brumbies.

“It’s a good boost for everyone having Jordy back,” Thorn said.

“We’re a family here at the Reds and he’s a part of that.

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“We’re a tight group and we’re all supporting him and his family.”

The coach has also reverted to in-form McDermott at the scrum base, while Fraser McReight will start at openside flanker in a backrow that sees Liam Wright move to the No.6 and Harry Wilson at No.8.

Prop Jack Straker will replace Dane Zander (knee) in the starting side after he was ruled out for the season, with Tongan-born, New Zealand-raised Jethro Felemi on the bench for a possible debut.

The sides played out an 18-18 draw in their last meeting, with the Reds on a two-game losing streak after their narrow loss to the Brumbies a fortnight ago.

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Queensland Reds: Jock Campbell, Jordan Petaia, Hunter Paisami, Hamish Stewart, Filipo Dauguna, James O’Connor, Tate McDermott, Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight, Liam Wright, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Angus Blyth, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Jack Straker. Reserves: Alex Mafi, Jethro Felemi, Zane Nonggorr, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Angus Scott-Young, Scott Malolua, Bryce Hegarty, Josh Flook.

– Murray Wenzel

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