Higginbotham back to lead Queensland Reds

Queensland Reds captain Scott Higginbotham is back from injury in one of three changes for the match against Super Rugby's form team, the Hurricanes.

Back in the side: Scott Higginbotham returns for the Reds.

Photo: AAP

Twin brothers JP and Ruan Smith return from suspension in a further boost ahead of Friday's match in Wellington but injury has robbed them of experienced pair Chris Feauai-Sautia and prop James Slipper.

There are three starting changes for a Reds side coming off their humbling 63-28 loss to the Sunwolves in Japan.

Veteran loose forward Higginbotham will attempt to lead the revival from No.8, having missed four matches since injuring his calf against the Brumbies in round eight.

Before that, he missed three games when suspended for a dangerous tackle against the Rebels in round one.


Flanker Adam Korczyk makes way, with Angus Scott Young shifted to the side of the scrum.

Wallabies prop Slipper is omitted for "welfare reasons". Reds management weren't prepared to provide further details.

JP Smith takes his place, with brother Ruan back on the bench. Both were left out for the Tokyo match for disciplinary reasons after missing squad sessions in the leadup.

Feaui-Sautia suffered concussion against the Sunwolves and is replaced by Duncan Paia'aua, with Samu Kerevi shifting to outside centre.

The reserve front row is overhauled. Andrew Ready, Ruan Smith and Sef Fa'agase are all recalled, along with outside back cover Izaia Perese.

Reds coach Brad Thorn hopes the changes can play a part in a vastly-improved Reds performance against a Hurricanes team on a nine-match winning streak.

"It was an incredibly disappointing result on the weekend but we need to move on from that poor performance," Thorn said.

"We knew there would be some tough lessons to learn this season but we need to learn quickly."

Queensland Reds: Hamish Stewart, Filipo Daugunu, Samu Kerevi, Duncan Paia'aua, Jordan Petaia, Jono Lance, Ben Lucas, Scott Higginbotham (capt), George Smith, Angus Scott-Young, Kane Douglas, Izack Rodda, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga- Amosa, JP Smith. Reserves: Andrew Ready, Sef Fa'agase, Ruan Smith, Harry Hockings, Liam Wright, Moses Sorovi, Izaia Perese, Aidan Toua.


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