Headlined by a strong Wallabies contingent of James O’Connor, Taniela Tupou, Harry Wilson, Jordan Petaia, Filipo Daugunu, Tate McDermott, Liam Wright, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Hunter Paisami, Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Fraser McReight, head coach Brad Thorn has retained the core of the squad that enjoyed plenty of success in 2020.
Factor in the high-profile acquisitions of new rugby league convert Suliasi Vunivalu and teenage sensation Mac Grealy, and the Queensland franchise’s prospects remain bright as they look to challenge for titles both in Australia and across the Tasman.
Heavy investment in local talent has also seen the promotion of five players – Grealy, midfielder Josh Flook, prop Zane Nonggorr, outside back Ilasia Droasese and halfback Kalani Thomas – from the Reds academy into the senior squad.
A further five players from the Reds developing squad – lock Ben Grant, midfielder Hudson Creighton, front-rower Matt Faessler, loose forward Sam Wallis and playmaker Isaac Henry – have joined the squad on part-time contracts.
Their inclusions in the squad has forced some casualties, though, with former Wallabies wing Chris Feauai-Sautia among 12 players involved in the 2020 squad to have missed out on this year’s side.
Feauai-Sautia enjoyed a nine-season spell with the Reds after debuting for the side as an 18-year-old in his first year out of school in 2012.
After picking up two test caps for the Wallabies the following year, Feauai-Sautia became a mainstay in the Reds set-up for the majority of the decade, but will have to look elsewhere to continue his career with the Reds opting for youth as it prepares for the future.
Twins JP and Ruan Smith have also both departed, with the popular props signed with the new Major League Rugby franchise LA Giltinis, while Manu Samoa halfback Scott Malolua and Tongan internationals Jethro Felemi and Dave Feao have all left.
The Reds open the Super Rugby AU season when they host the Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium on February 19.