Reds punt on future flyhalf
The adventurous punt on turning Isaac Lucas into a long-term Reds flyhalf will start on Friday in Gladstone where Wallaby James O'Connor is the fascinating subplot.
This first outing in an afternoon trial against the Melbourne Rebels is a sharp insight into just how coach Brad Thorn plans to run his 2020 Queensland backline.
Lucas, 20, will start the trial wearing No.10 after a full season re-learning the role for Brisbane City in the National Rugby Championship late last season.
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O'Connor will spend time at flyhalf later in the game which is both a sign of his versatility and his willingness to be the senior figure who helps out wherever he can.
O'Connor was uneasy with playing the No.10 role during his 2015 stint at the club, when he felt better suited elsewhere, but he has been an asset in every way during this pre-season.
His best slot in the top Reds' backline is almost certainly at inside centre between young Lucas and outside centre Jordan Petaia, the breakout Wallaby weapon from the World Cup.
O'Connor is conspicuously the only Red in a playmaking position with Test experience so the smarts gained from 52 Tests have to be utilised close to the action.
Petaia is one of several stars missing from this trial which will be flanker Liam Wright's first outing as Reds captain.
Top lock Izack Rodda is still touch-and-go to be fit for the season-opener against the Brumbies in Canberra on January 31 after post-World Cup ankle surgery, while winger Henry Speight and prop JP Smith are on the way back from minor knee clean-ups.
The 2.45pm (Qld time) trial at Marley Brown Oval will be played in four quarters to deal with the heat.
It is a major chance for young Harry Wilson and Seru Uru to make a mark at No.8 as well as new prop signing David Feao, who has played professionally in France and England since his 2015 club premiership with Souths.
Wilson, 20, has beefed up to 112kg with a diligent off-season while also getting value from agility work to keep developing his footwork.
"Like all the boys, I can't wait to rip in after what has been a very competitive pre-season and I mean that in a good way," Wilson said.
"I played at school with Zaccy (Lucas) at Gregory Terrace (in 2016) and in last year's Junior Wallabies so I know all the exciting things he adds to a team."
Brisbane Boys' College product Trevor Hosea and Esei Haangana, both 20, will pair as locks for the Rebels, who are searching for a replacement for Wallaby Adam Coleman, now at London Irish.
Forwards: Dane Zander, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Alex Mafi, Sean Farrell, Efi Ma'afu, Taniela Tupou, Dave Feao, Josh Nasser, Angus Blyth, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Ryan Smith, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Angus Scott-Young, Liam Wright, Harry Wilson, Seru Uru.
Backs: Tate McDermott, Moses Sorovi, Isaac Lucas, James O'Connor, Hamish Stewart, Hunter Paisami, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Filipo Daugunu, Jock Campbell, Ilaisa Droasese, Bryce Hegarty, Lawson Creighton