BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 02: Isaac Lucas of the Reds is tackled during the round three Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium on March 02, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 02: Isaac Lucas of the Reds is tackled during the round three Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium on March 02, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Reds make shock call at fullback

Fresh-faced spark Isaac Lucas has been tossed into the cauldron of interstate rugby at just 20 in a major backline revamp by the Queensland Reds for Saturday night's showdown against the NSW Waratahs.

The Reds have jettisoned Hamish Stewart to the bench, installed seasoned Bryce Hegarty at five-eighth and called up Lucas as their new fullback for the Sydney Cricket Ground.

It is a significant readjustment after just two rounds of Super Rugby but Reds boss Brad Thorn is backing attack coach Jim McKay on the best way to sharpen the side's scorepower and creativity.

Hegarty moved to the Queensland Reds from the Waratahs only this season so he will be natural target for former teammates in blue and the crowd.

He played the first game against the Highlanders at fullback and even with the No.15 on his back was more often the No.10 calling the shots against the Crusaders last weekend.

Young Lucas has made just two cameos off the bench, after two eye-catching trials, to impress the Reds enough for this chance.

He stepped by four Chiefs defenders in a 25m run in a trial and his natural skillset as a No.10 or inside centre adds a second playmaker to the backline from his slot at fullback.

 

Hamish Stewart has been sent to the bench. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled
Hamish Stewart has been sent to the bench. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled

 

Up front, the Reds have made a shrewd move by calling in experienced Scott Higginbotham to play at No.8 because his incendiary mood and attitude for matches against the Waratahs is otherwise known as experience.

He is the only Reds player to know what beating NSW feels like which is the damning measure of Queensland's nine-match losing streak against NSW.

Angus Scott-Young moves to the bench which allows Higginbotham, Liam Wright and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto to form the backrow.

With Jordan Petaia to miss the rest of the Reds' season, Duncan Paia'aua has been called up at inside centre with Samu Kerevi moving out one slot to No.13.

Petaia underwent surgery on a mid-foot ligament injury on Monday and will be sidelined for at least four months.

 

Brad Thorn has made some ambitious calls for the Reds clash with NSW. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Brad Thorn has made some ambitious calls for the Reds clash with NSW. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

 

In all the Reds have made five changes to their starting XV.

In the forwards, JP Smith also returns as starting loosehead prop.

"No matter what code or sport, Queensland v New South Wales are always good games. It's a historic rivalry and I know our men will wear the maroon jersey with pride," Thorn said.

"Bryce is a great communicator within the group. He has showed good composure, confidence and direction when he's slotted into that 10 position the last two games.

"Hamish moves to the bench. He continues to work hard and provides us with options in the backline.

"Congratulations to Isaac. It's a big achievement to run out for Queensland for the first time. In our two matches against the Highlanders and Crusaders, he's come on and hasn't looked out of place.

"We're excited to see what he can do with more game time this weekend.

"Duncan did his job last week when he came on for Jordy. It's good having someone like him we can bring into our backline to partner Samu in the centres.

"It's disappointing losing Jordy. As a group we're all supporting him."

 

Isaac Lucas with Sefa Naivalu, Bryce Hegarty and Feao Fotuaika. Picture: Tom Mitchell, QRU
Isaac Lucas with Sefa Naivalu, Bryce Hegarty and Feao Fotuaika. Picture: Tom Mitchell, QRU

 

Queensland v NSW, Sydney Cricket Ground, Saturday, 6.45pm AEST

1. JP Smith

2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa

3. Taniela Tupou

4. Izack Rodda (vc)

5. Harry Hockings

6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto

7. Liam Wright

8. Scott Higginbotham

9. Moses Sorovi

10. Bryce Hegarty

11. Sefa Naivalu

12. Duncan Paia'aua

13. Samu Kerevi (c)

14. Chris Feauai-Sautia

15. Isaac Lucas

Reserves

16. Alex Mafi

17. Harry Hoopert

18. Ruan Smith

19. Caleb Timu

20. Angus Scott-Young

21. Tate McDermott

22. Hamish Stewart

23. Jack Hardy