Barnes to return against Force at Ballymore


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The QR Reds backline has received a timely boost with Wallabies playmaker and interim captain Berrick Barnes primed for a return in the team’s final trial match, against the Western Force at Ballymore on Thursday night.

Barnes spent the off-season treating his knee after suffering a ruptured posterior cruciate ligament during the Wallabies tour of Europe late last year.

Barnes, who will captain the side in the absence of skipper James Horwill, is confident his knee has fully recovered after months of rehabilitation, with the dynamic inside centre more concerned with re-gaining match fitness ahead of the Reds’ opening Investec Super 14 match against the Bulls on February 14 in Pretoria.

‘You can run all you like but getting that footy fitness is a whole different ballgame so I’m just looking to get a few (kilometres) under my belt on the field,’ Barnes said.

‘If I got to play a whole game that would be great, but I’m not sure what the coach has in mind, but I’ll try and play as long as I can, obviously.’

QR Reds coach Phil Mooney is also convinced Barnes is ready for a return and will tomorrow name him alongside flyhalf Quade Cooper, who will look to build on his impressive display in last week’s 26-24 trial loss to the Blues ion Auckland.

‘He’s always in tremendous nick and he has had a really long lead-in coming back from the Wallaby tour early. His rehab is finished so he’s fine to go 80 minutes,’ Mooney said of the Barnes knee injury.

Mooney said outside centre Morgan Turinui will also be good to go, despite suffering a minor shoulder injury in last week’s trial.

‘The medical opinion is that he will be right,’ Mooney said.

‘We’ll get him to do a little bit of contact before the game and he should be there.’

Mooney will announce his team tomorrow (Tuesday).

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