Izack Rodda has made an early return from injury and will play in Queensland's Super Rugby season opener.
The 21-year-old lock earned four Wallabies caps last year but his breakout campaign was ended abruptly by shoulder surgery during the week of October's third Bledisloe Cup Test.
His return date was supposed to be next week's home clash with the Brumbies.
However, Rodda has been given the green light by the Reds' medical department to line up alongside Lukhan Tui in the second row on Friday night at AAMI Park against Melbourne. This follows 16 weeks of gruelling rehab and a return this month to contact work.
"It was pure joy and excitement, knowing I'd been given the all-clear to play," Rodda said.
"Throughout rehab, all I could think about was getting my body right, getting as fit and strong as I could and getting back for the start of the season.
"It was tough getting back into it and getting the arm moving after six weeks in a sling."
"It was a good feeling to get the shoulder working again and do some contact. I was a little hesitant at first but, once I started, it was all good."
Rodda, whose return shunts Kane Douglas to the bench, is one of only two changes to the Reds' team from last week's win over the Fiji Warriors in their final pre-season trial.
The other is forced, with Izaia Perese (knee) replaced on the wing by Eto Nabuli, who has overcome a wrist complaint.
Perese, Ben Lucas (knee) and George Smith (back) are the only first-choice players unavailable through injury.
Jono Lance has retained the No.10 jersey over Hamish Stewart, while Aidan Toua will get first crack at fullback in the absence of Karmichael Hunt. His career remains up in the air as Rugby Australia continues its investigation into his recent arrest.
The Reds have named Super Rugby debutant Brandon Paenga-Amosa at hooker, and there are another three first-timers on the bench - back-rower Liam Wright, halfback Tate McDermott and winger Filipo Daugunu.
"Pre-season was a tough slog, but we were pleased with the work. Now it's time for the real thing," said coach Brad Thorn, who will coach the Reds for the first time at Super Rugby level.
Aidan Toua, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi, Duncan Paia'aua, Eto Nabuli, Jono Lance, James Tuttle, Scott Higginbothan (capt), Adam Korczyk, Caleb Timu, Lukhan Tui, Izack Rodda, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, James Slipper.
Res: Alex Mafi, JP Smith, Sef Fa'agase, Kane Douglas, Liam Wright, Tate McDermott, Hamish Stewart, Filipo Daugunu.