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Reds hope man-of-the-match midfielder can help break their 2020 duck

The Super Rugby emergence of Hunter Paisami and return of Fraser McReight has lifted the mood at the Queensland Reds as they battle with the loss of Jordan Petaia to another season-ending injury.

Teenage Wallabies centre Petaia dislocated his shoulder at training in Argentina last week and missed the clash with the Jaguares.

Scans this week revealed the 19-year-old will require surgery and a 20-week lay-off.

While still a massive blow for the Reds and Australia, Paisami’s player of the match performance in Buenos Aires has raised expectations and allowed Brad Thorn the luxury of naming an unchanged line-up for Saturday’s home opener against the Sunwolves.

The Reds (0-3) will shuffle their bench though, with Junior Wallabies back-rower Fraser McReight (thumb) back from injury while fiery prop Harry Hoopert (neck) and Samoan halfback Scott Malolua have also been added to the reserves.

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Plucked from Sydney club rugby as an injury replacement for hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Eastwood product Ed Craig could also make his Super Rugby debut off the bench on Saturday night.

James O’Connor was named at No.10 for the third-straight game and Jock Campbell retained at fullback, with utility backs Isaac Lucas and Bryce Hegarty remaining on the bench.

Assistant coach Peter Ryan said it was tough to swallow the news of Petaia’s latest setback but that the Reds had the depth to cope.

“Everyone just feels for his own well-being … two years in a row he’s missed a season and unfortunately for him it was an injury in training,” Ryan said.

“You can live with it more as a player when you get an injury in-game, but in training, it’s just not supposed to happen.

“But for certain (we have the depth); Hunter filled into that position, did an admirable job, got player’s player against the Jaguares in a very physical game.”

The Sunwolves (1-1) were thumped by the Chiefs last weekend but upset the Melbourne Rebels at home in the first week of the season and will keep the Reds on their toes.

Queensland: Jock Campbell, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Hunter Paisami, Hamish Stewart, Henry Speight, James O’Connor, Tate McDermott, Harry Wilson, Liam Wright (c), Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Angus Blyth, Izack Rodda, Taniela Tupou, Alex Mafi, JP Smith. Reserves: Ed Craig, Harry Hoopert, Josh Nasser, Harry Hockings, Fraser McReight – Brothers, Scott Malolua, Isaac Lucas, Bryce Hegarty.

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Reds hope man-of-the-match midfielder can help break their 2020 duck
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