Melbourne are on high alert for the rampant Reds in their Super Rugby AU clash on Friday night, with captain Matt Toomua saying the Queenslanders have a new edge to their game.
With the bye in round one, the Rebels were keen observers of the Reds in their crushing 41-7 win over the NSW Waratahs.
Veteran Wallaby Toomua, who will form a new halves partnership with ex-Brumbies No.9 Joe Powell at Suncorp Stadium, said the home side were a danger team.
And that's without former NRL star Suliasi Vunivalu, who missed the opening match through suspension but has been named to make his rugby debut off the Reds bench.
Toomua said the ruthless nature of the victory had shown the growth in the young Queenslanders.
"They're a team in form; they're probably one of the more exciting teams to watch," Toomua told AAP.
"The way they stuck it out on the weekend shows they've got a level of maturity that they probably didn't have two or three years ago so they're going to be tough."
Reds halfback Tate McDermott said he'd been working hard on his kicking game after feedback from Wallabies coach Dave Rennie and would look to do some damage against the Rebels.
He said he'd relish the chance to prove himself against Powell, who was also part of the Wallabies squad and helped steer the Brumbies to the 2020 Super Rugby AU grand final win over the Reds.
"If I can do it properly, and I have been putting quite a large amount of time into that side of things, it really benefits the team," McDermott said.
"If the team needs me to kick I will 100 per cent put my hand and you saw that (against NSW)."
Melbourne have dropped their opening games in 2019 and 2020 but Toomua said they were raring to get their season started, particularly after being forced out of Victoria again due to a COVID-19 outbreak earlier this month.
They also haven't beaten Queensland in their last three outings.
Toomua missed most of Australia's Tri-Nations campaign with a serious groin injury but is back to full fitness, although fellow Test players Dane Haylett-Petty (head) and No.8 Isi Naisarani (hip) are out.
Tom Pincus is a surprise choice to start at fullback in his place, with the 2020 recruit having only played on the wing previously for Melbourne.
Prop Cabous Eloff gets his first starting debut as does Olympic sevens player Lachie Anderson, who is on the wing.
Stacey Ili will make his Super Rugby debut, partnering Reece Hodge in the centres.
Australian Associated Press