Four changes have been made to the Gallagher Chiefs forward pack to take on the Queensland Reds. Hooker Bradley Slater and tighthead prop Angus Ta’avao will join loosehead prop Aidan Ross in the starting front row. While replacement hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho, and tighthead prop Sione Mafileo shift to the bench as cover alongside returning loosehead prop Reuben O’Neill. The experienced Mitchell Brown returns from injury to join Tupou Vaa’i as the side’s locking duo. The powerful Pita Gus Sowakula and veteran Liam Messam once again change places, with Sowakula starting at six and Messam covering on the bench in jersey twenty. Lachlan Boshier and Luke Jacobson will retain their starting positions and respectively don jersey seven and eight.
In the backline, Chase Tiatia will shift to the left wing in place of Jonah Lowe and Kaleb Trask will slip into fullback in the only change to the starting backline. Waikato midfielder Quinn Tupaea, who announced re-signing with the Gallagher Chiefs earlier this week will return early from injury to cover on the bench. He will be joined on the bench by utility back Shaun Stevenson and halfback Xavier Roe.
McMillan acknowledged the Reds will be hurting from their loss on the weekend, but his side is prepared for that.
“The Reds are a far better side than what they demonstrated last week, and they will know that and be disappointed in their own performance. They were punished by the Crusaders and we are expecting a reaction. Brad Thorn is well known to us in New Zealand. I do not imagine he would have been too happy with that outcome, especially being a former Crusader. We are expecting a real backlash and we have talked about it all week and we are prepared for that.”
1: Aidan Ross (45) 2: Bradley Slater (22) 3: Angus Ta’avao (44) 4: Mitchell Brown (53) 5: Tupou Vaa’i (16) 6: Pita Gus Sowakula (36) 7: Lachlan Boshier (61) 8: Luke Jacobson (34) 9: Brad Weber (95) © 10: Damian McKenzie (94) 11: Chase Tiatia (8) 12:Alex Nankivell (40) 13: Anton Lienert-Brown (91) 14: Bailyn Sullivan (6) 15: Kaleb Trask (14)
Reserves: Samisoni Taukei’aho (46), Reuben O’Neill (12), Sione Mafileo (7), Zane Kapeli (4), Liam Messam (182), Xavier Roe (3), Quinn Tupaea (16), Shaun Stevenson (59)
() = Gallagher Chiefs caps in brackets
*denotes Gallagher Chiefs debut
**denotes Sky Super Rugby debut
Unavailable for selection:
Jonah Lowe (hamstring), Kaylum Boshier (shoulder), Laghlan McWhannell (knee), Mitchell Karpik (knee), Naitoa Ah Kuoi (neck), Rivez Reihana (shoulder), Sam Cane (shoulder/pectoral), Samipeni Finau (shoulder), Sean Wainui (hamstring), Simon Parker (foot).