The Queensland Reds have made just one injury-enforced change to the starting team which lost to the Super Rugby pace-setting Sharks.
Queensland coach Richard Graham wants recalled centre Ben Tapuai to be more assertive to give the Lions’ unfancied backline headaches at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park this weekend.
In the only change to the team which fell 35-20 to Super Rugby frontrunners, the Sharks, Tapuai has regained the outside centre position from the injured Chris Feauai-Sautia (hamstring).
The seven-Test Wallaby had started the season in the No.13 jersey but failed to make an impact in the 27-17 win over the Brumbies and 32-5 loss to NSW.
Feauai-Sautia immediately took his chance with a two-try display against the Cheetahs and followed up with another tackle-shedding effort against the Sharks.
Graham expects Tapuai to make the most of his chance on Sunday morning (AEDT).
“For me, I want to see him be assertive in that outside channel, whether that’s carrying the ball, his defence or communication,” he told AAP.
The Reds have also made changes to reserves with Albert Anae replacing prop Ben Daley (knee) and hard-nosed centre Anthony Fainga’a set to comme off the bench.
A upset stomach has seen Fainga’a bracketed with utility back Ben Lucas but he’s expected to recover in time.
Queensland go into the Ellis Park encounter with a 2-2 record, but can set a solid platform to launch from with victory over the fourth-placed Lions (3-2).
They have three straight home games (Stormers, Force, Brumbies) once they return from South Africa before a mid-competition bye.
The Lions, who have lost hooker Robbie Coetzee (knee), have been an early surprise-packet – upsetting the Cheetahs, Stormers and Blues – on the back of radar boot Marnitz Boshoff’s fantastic goalkicking.
Queensland: Aidan Toua, Rod Davies, Ben Tapuai, Mike Harris, Lachie Turner, Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Ed Quirk, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Greg Holmes, Saia Fainga’a, James Slipper. Res: James Hanson, Albert Anae, Jono Owen, Ed O’Donoghue, Beau Robinson, Nick Frisby, Ben Lucas or Anthony Faingaa, Dom Shipperley.