Reds welcome back Horwill, Barnes - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Reds welcome back Horwill, Barnes

By Jim Morton 11/05/2009 07:44:24 PM Comments (0)

In news to delight NSW and the Brumbies, injury-riddled Queensland's most influential players - Berrick Barnes and James Horwill - have rated themselves likely final-round Super 14 starters.

The Reds captain and vice-captain both confidently put their hands up to play against the hungry, third-placed Hurricanes at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night to bolster a greenhorn outfit.

The Hurricanes (39) need to win to book a place in the semi-finals and will eye the depleted competition battlers, lacking up to 12 of their best side, as prey for a big bonus-point victory to aid their cause for a home play-off.

The fifth-placed Brumbies (37) and seventh-placed Waratahs (36) both need to beat the Chiefs and Lions respectively and hope some other results to go their way to make the top four.

An unlikely Queensland boilover would be one the Australian rivals would be praying for.

The return of skipper and second-rower Horwill and backline general Barnes would take the Reds chances from virtually non-existent to hopeful.

Horwill will run on his injured foot on late Monday for the first time since jamming it in the 52-13 loss to the Brumbies nine days ago while Barnes believes his groin strain has improved significantly.

"I'm pretty confident I should be right, my foot's feeling pretty good," Horwill said on Monday.

Fellow Wallaby Barnes, whose importance at five-eighth has been accentuated by the Reds listless attack in heavy losses to the Brumbies and Crusaders, said he should also be right to go.

"I can't see any reason why not," he said.

If Barnes returned it would save coach Phil Mooney from a tough decision at No.10 as talented playmaker Quade Cooper has struggled in the position without his vice-captain's guidance.

Former Test and Queensland captain and selector Andrew Slack heavily criticised Mooney's late switch of Cooper to five-eighth against the Crusaders after originally naming Ben Lucas in the first-receiver role.

In his Brisbane newspaper column, Slack said he was flabbergasted by the Reds' perseverance of the erratic Cooper in the crucial position and believed Lucas possessed the better head for the role.

In an added boost, fullback Mark McLinden and backrower Ezra Taylor are also on track to overcome knee injuries and start against the Hurricanes.

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