In a reshuffled forward pack, captain Liam Wright will shift to blindside flanker with Fraser McReight at No 7 in his first start for the Reds.
Harry Wilson has overcome a torn MCL and will pack down at No 8 in what shapes as a formidable backrow combination.
Angus Blyth will partner Lukhan Salakaia-Loto at lock, while Brandon Paenga-Amosa has recovered from an ankle injury and takes his spot in the front row alongside Harry Hoopert and Taniela Tupou.
Tate McDermott and James O'Connor resume their halfback partnership, as do Hamish Stewart and Hunter Paisami at inside and outside centre respectively.
Bryce Hegarty has been named at fullback, as Jock Campbell shifts to the wing.
Two players could potentially make their Super Rugby and Reds debuts with lock Tuaina Taii Tualima and outside-back Josh Flook both named on the bench.
"We're pumped to be back playing rugby again this week," Thorn told the Reds' official website.
"We've been in a moment of history - 100 years since the Spanish flu. It's been a tough four months, but as group - both players and staff, we've worked hard for each other and adapted to the challenges.
"It doesn't get any better than playing the Waratahs in the season opener. Queensland v New South Wales - there's plenty of tradition there. It's a great rivalry and we look forward to continuing that on Friday night.
"As a club, we continue to bring young talent through our Academy and also through club footy. It's great to see Tuaina and Josh named in the 23. They've worked hard and as a group, we congratulate them on this achievement," Thorn concluded.
15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Jock Campbell, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 James O'Connor, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Liam Wright (captain), 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Angus Blyth, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Harry Hoopert
Substitutes: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 JP Smith, 18 Josh Nasser, 19 Tuaina Taii Tualima, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Scott Malolua, 22 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 23 Josh Flook
15 Jack Maddocks, 14 James Ramm, 13 Alex Newsome, 12 Joey Walton, 11 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Mitch Short, 8 Will Harris, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Rob Simmons (captain), 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Robbie Abel, 1 Angus Bell
Substitutes: 16 Tom Horton, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Tiaan Tauakipulu, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 Michael McDonald, 22 Ben Donaldson, 23 Tepai Moeroa