Injury-plagued Rob Horne made a promising return to action as he stakes a claim for the outside centre hot spot in the Wallabies backline for the Rugby World Cup.

Horne missed most of the NSW Waratahs' Super Rugby campaign with an elbow injury he suffered in the round three loss to the Crusaders in March.

The hard-running, strong-tackling 21-year-old played six Tests for the Wallabies last season, before his international campaign was cut short by injury.

With few other outside centre specialists standing out, the No.13 spot is one of the few positions in the Wallabies' talent-stacked backline lacking depth.

Utility Adam Ashley-Cooper has occupied the outside centre berth for Australia's first two Tests of the current campaign.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was among the spectators on Saturday when Horne made his comeback in a Sydney club game for Southern Districts.

"By all reports Rob got through the game well, his first run back after a long break," Wallabies selector and coaching co-ordinator David Nucifora told AAP on Sunday.

"So that's a really good sign."

Elsewhere, fellow World Cup hopefuls Berrick Barnes and Daniel Vickerman both performed well for Sydney University.

Utility back Barnes, whose Super Rugby campaign was cut short by head knock issues, piled up 27 points from a try, five conversions and four penalties.

"It was good to see him get through another game yesterday, his involvement was very good," said Nucifora, who was at the game.

"He mixed his game up from being at the back at fullback to getting in the line as first receiver and he defended in the line for a while.

"He will be getting a lot more confidence out of every minute of game time that he gets."

Second rower Vickerman, who played his first Test in three years off the bench against Samoa in mid-July, impressed Nucifora with how his fitness was progressing.

The South African-born Test veteran only recently resumed playing following a 10-week layoff after completing three years of study in England.

"He did very well yesterday, he went full throttle for the 80 minutes, he was still making tackles and hitting the rucks in the 79th minute of that match," Nucifora said.

"His aerobic base is very good, he worked very hard on that prior to returning and it's just him getting used to the physicality and the knocks that you take in getting your match fitness.

"Yesterday he proved that he's probably a lot further down the track than we thought he might have been."

Nucifora was adamant Horne, Barnes and Vickerman all still had sufficient time to force their way into the Wallabies' World Cup squad which will be named on August 18.

- AAP