Injured Wallaby inside back Berrick Barnes will be rushed back into action before the Super 14 rugby season kicks off, increasing his chances of being appointed Queensland skipper.
Barnes is back running after sustaining a serious knee injury during the Wallabies spring tour and is confident of playing at least one of the Reds' two final trials matches in early February.
With Wallabies lock and last season's captain James Horwill expected to miss the first half of the tournament, Reds coach Phil Mooney believes Barnes can handle the extra responsibility.
Meanwhile Julian Huxley's hopes of returning to rugby have been dealt a blow with Brumbies coach Andy Friend revealing the utility will not play any part in this year's Super 14 season.
Huxley was diagnosed with a brain tumour after suffering a fit during a game in March last year.
The six-Test Wallaby underwent surgery to remove the tumour and endured daily radiation therapy while he worked towards making a comeback.
However doctors have advised against Huxley returning to action.
Friend says Huxley is taking a month off from his role as the club's kicking coach to deal with the news his comeback bid, and possibly his career, is over.