Aussie wrap (Mon) brings you the latest news from Australia’s Super 14 franchises.

Barnes to skipper reds

Berrick Barnes will lead the Queensland Reds in the absence of regular captain James Horwill when their Super 14 campaign gets underway next month.

The 22-year-old will take temporary charge of the side for their African excursion which begins against the Bulls in Pretoria followed by a trip down to Cape Town to face the Stormers. Horwill is recovering from a foot injury and is not expected back until mid-March.

“Berrick will captain the side,” said head coach Phil Mooney.

“He’s a young guy who has prospered under Robbie Deans at the Wallabies. And although only a young man he has a lot of experience behind him with three or four years of Super rugby, and as I said, a couple of seasons of international rugby.

“Berrick epitomises all the qualities of our team that we’re looking for. He’s young, energetic, he leads from the front. He doesn’t do a lot of talking but leads by his actions on the field.

“Where we are as a team, that’s the sort of leader that we need. I think he’s ready to do a very good job.”

Hodgson extends Force deal

Flanker Matt Hodgson has signed a two-year contract extension with the Western Force, keeping him at the franchise until the end of 2011.

The 27-year-old is a regular squad member at the Force and has amassed 30 Super 14 caps since joining from the Waratahs.

“The first three seasons have been terrific for my rugby and I have really enjoyed myself,” Hodgson said.

“We’ve got a really good squad and we’ve got fantastic support here. I’ve been here since year one and we’ve obviously been improving as a side and are looking to take things to the next level and play in the finals.

“I think that’s very much in our reach this season and if we can retain our squad and build on what we’ve achieved I can see a very bright future at the club.”

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