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Horwill sidelined by rugby training mishap
Jim Morton
19:34 AEST Wed Feb 6 2013

Friendly fire at training has delayed Wallaby skipper James Horwill's long-awaited return and placed him in some doubt for the Queensland Reds' Super Rugby kick-off.

An extremely disappointed Horwill has been scratched from the Reds' final pre-season trial against the Chiefs on Friday night after badly twisting his ankle in a tackling drill at Ballymore.

Reds' director of coaching Ewen McKenzie still expects the 200cm lock to make his comeback in the February 16 season opener against the Brumbies in Canberra after being cleared of ligament damage by scans on Wednesday.

But there are no guarantees and it means Horwill will be underdone for his return to Canberra Stadium - the venue where he suffered his horrific torn hamstring which sidelined him nine months ago.

The ankle injury is not related and came from a training mishap when wrestled to the ground by six tacklers in a high-contact drill.

"Someone fell on his ankle - he can't take a trick at the moment," McKenzie said.

"There's no dramas but he's obviously very disappointed about it, as we are, because he's put a lot of work into getting back on the field and this delays it by a week.

"That's what it is but we want to make sure his comeback is 100 per cent successful."

Prop James Slipper will skipper Queensland against the Chiefs at Caloundra and has emerged as a co-favourite with centre Anthony Faingaa to be captain for the opening round if Horwill is unavailable.

"The injury puts some doubt on (him playing round one) but I won't rule anything in or out," McKenzie said.

Ed O'Donaghue will start in the second-row against the Chiefs with Rob Simmons who makes his return from suspension.