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The HSBC Waratahs' 2010 Super 14 campaign officially started today with the squad returning to the park for day one of pre-season training, buoyed by the news off-season recruit Berrick Barnes would not require surgery on the ankle injury which saw him return home from the Wallabies Spring Tour.
Barnes arrived back in Sydney yesterday with specialists indicating his rehabilitation should see him back on the field for round one of the 2010 competition when NSW are drawn to face the Reds in Brisbane.
"The diagnosis is that Berrick has suffered a significant syndesmosis injury, however at this stage the indication is that it won't require surgery," said HSBC Waratahs Head Coach Chris Hickey.
"It is disappointing for Berrick that injury has forced him home from his first tour as Wallabies vice-captain, however the outcome is more positive than it was first feared.
"The worst case scenario would have been surgery, and if that was the case then he would have likely missed the start of the Super 14."
Barnes will now return to Brisbane to commence treatment on the injury ahead of the move to Sydney to join his new Super 14 side.
Barnes' 2010 teammates spent the morning of day one in the gym before hitting the field at Victoria Barracks in the afternoon.
"It all starts now. The work we do over the next seven weeks establishes the foundations for the 2010 Super 14 season," said Hickey who is commencing his second season in charge of the NSW squad. "After Christmas we return from a break and from that point it's only about three weeks until our first trial against the Reds in Lismore."
The squad will expand over the course of the pre-season with players returning from injury, leave and the Spring Tour, as well as new players joining the team from overseas.
"The squad will continue to change a little bit every couple of weeks, and as that happens we will continue to build as a unit right up until the start of the season," said Hickey. "We've got the Junior Waratah professional squad training with the Super 14 players which they'll do throughout the pre-season.
"Later this month we'll have some of the senior players like Phil Waugh, Al Baxter and Adam Freier rejoin, and we're also expecting Hendrik Roodt and Sosene Anesi to be with us before the end of the month.
"The players on the Spring Tour will be on leave upon their return, but they'll be back in time to prepare for our three trial matches and of course the opening round of the Super 14 on February 13."