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James steps in for absent Horwill

Tue, 12 Feb 2013 08:22
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His ankle is only a minor setback
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Prop James Slipper will captain the Reds in their Super Rugby season opener against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday, with regular skipper James Horwill being given an additional week to recover from an ankle injury.

The appointment means Slipper will join Horwill and scrumhalf Will Genia as the only players to have captained Queensland in the Super Rugby competition since Director of Coaching Ewen McKenzie took charge of the province for the 2010 season.

Horwill, who rolled his ankle during a contact session last Tuesday, will recommence full training later this week as he targets a return in the Reds first home game of 2013 against the NSW Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, February 23.

In Horwill's absence, 23-year-old Slipper captained the Reds in their second trial game against the Chiefs on the Sunshine Coast on last Friday.

Slipper said it was an honour to be appointed captain.

"It's extremely humbling to be chosen as captain for the Reds, especially when you think about the many great captains Queensland has produced over the years," Slipper said.

"On a personal level it will be a very satisfying moment leading the Reds out on Saturday but at the end of the day we are there to get a job done and that's to beat the Brumbies.  

"It's a huge game to start our year  and the Brumbies proved last year what a quality side they can be.  We'll need to be at the top of our game if we are going to walk away with the result we're after."

McKenzie said he expected Horwill to return against the Waratahs in round two.

"As we've done all off-season we've taken a cautious approach with James and his rehab and on this occasion we all agreed it would be best to give him another week on the sideline," McKenzie said.

"But as we said last week, his ankle is only a minor setback, and we fully expect him to be healthy when we play our first game of the year at Suncorp Stadium next week."

Slipper was the Reds standout performer in 2012, not missing a single game and becoming just the second prop in Queensland Rugby history to win the prestigious Pilecki Medal, awarded to the Players' Player of the Year.

His starring performances and capabilities at both sides of the scrum didn't go unnoticed at national level and he has become a reliable staple within the Wallabies squad, ending 2012 with 34 career caps.

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