The Queensland Reds will keep Jordan Petaia on ice with an eye to the Super Rugby Pacific finals while the Waratahs face a hooking crisis with two regulars ruled out with concussion.
Injury-plagued Petaia hasn’t been recalled to face the Chiefs on Friday night after missing last week’s loss to the Hurricanes with a minor hamstring issue.
Petaia has been troubled by hamstring complaints in his short career but the Reds insist it’s not a serious setback as they adopt a careful approach ahead of finals and a three-Test series against England in July.
In Jock Campbell they have adequate cover at fullback, while Filipo Daugunu has lost his wing spot to Josh Flook.
Key pair Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Seru Uru return from injury and are on the bench.
Lawson Creighton will again start in the No.10 with James O’Connor (knee) out for at least another three weeks.
The Chiefs will be without skipper Sam Cane, denying in-form Reds flanker Fraser McReight a shot at the All Blacks star.
The Reds (7-2) beat the Chiefs (6-3) in Townsville last year and will be thirsty for more success in Brisbane after letting a 17-0 lead slip against the Hurricanes in the last round.
The Waratahs will be without concussed hookers Dave Porecki and Tom Horton, while Alex Newsome replaces Will Harrison (knee) at fullback to face the Crusaders.
The pair were ruled out of contention on Wednesday after failing their head injury assessments during the weekend’s game, with Mahe Vailanu named to start and his replacement on the bench still to be confirmed.
Allan Alaalatoa (neck) remains out for the top-of-the-table Brumbies, who will welcome fullback Tom Banks’ return from a facial injury for their game against the Hurricanes on Sunday in Canberra.
Banks’ return sees Tom Wright shift back to the right wing, with Ollie Sapsford’s bench inclusion the only other change to the only victorious Australian outfit last weekend.
Following Matt Toomua’s head knock last week, Carter Gordon will start in the No.10 again for the improved Melbourne Rebels against Moana Pasifika on Saturday.
Pone Fa’amausili (calf) is also back via the bench and Raymond Nu’u returns to the centres alongside Stacey Ili.
The Western Force have welcomed back a host of talent after COVID-19 woes forced the postponement of last weekend’s game against Moana Pasifika.
They’ll face the equal-first Blues (8-1) in Perth on Friday, needing a win to stay inside the top-eight that will contest finals.