Reds star O’Connor grounded by dodgy ankle
James O'Connor's dodgy ankle has grounded him and thrust youngster Isaac Lucas into the hot seat at No.10 for the Queensland Reds visit to Christchurch.
Although not regarded as serious, his sprained right ankle will still mean O'Connor sitting out Friday's clash against the Crusaders.
Lucas played the final 34 minutes at flyhalf against the Sharks last weekend when O'Connor limped off Suncorp Stadium.
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It was the biggest of his bite-sized cameos over the past four matches since coach Brad Thorn started him at No.10 in the season-opener against the ACT Brumbies in Canberra.
Thorn explained recently that preferring O'Connor at flyhalf from then on was never a knock on Lucas' suitability or potential as a No.10.
"Having a 29-year-old there (at No.10) to play a tough spot in away games (Buenos Aires and Johannesburg) was a good thing," Thorn said.
"Part of it was just depressuring Isaac as a young No.10 who will continue to get game time there off the bench and starting opportunities.
"Isaac is an outstanding talent."
Lucas, 21, is a fearless, back-yourself type who will dive into this challenge against the champions of Super Rugby.
When a ball bobbled loose, he swooped on it against the Sunwolves, put on a little footwork and scored from 25m out.
He has that knack plus a strong voice to communicate to his troops but is still developing his ability to organise supports inside and out.
He will form a new halves pairing with Samoan international Scott Malolua with top halfback Tate McDermott being rotated to the bench.
Young No.8 Harry Wilson has recovered from a head knock to take his place in the starting pack.
Lukhan Salakaia-Loto comes in at lock with Wallabies lock Izack Rodda being rested presumably under Wallabies' time management advice.
Reds v Crusaders, Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch, 4:05pm AEST Friday
TV: Live on Fox Sports and Kayo
REDS: Jock Campbell, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Hunter Paisami, Hamish Stewart, Henry Speight, Isaac Lucas, Scott Malolua, Harry Wilson, Liam Wright (c), Angus Scott-Young, Harry Hockings, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Taniela Tupou, Alex Mafi, JP Smith. Reserves: Ed Craig, Dane Zander, Josh Nasser, Angus Blyth, Fraser McReight, Tate McDermott, Bryce Hegarty, Filipo Daugunu.