James Horwill re-signs with Reds, Wallabies
May 6, 2013
'I've still got a lot more that I want to achieve with both the Wallabies and the Queensland Reds,' James Horwill says © Getty Images
James Horwill has re-signed with Queensland Reds and the Australian Rugby Union, the Wallabies' 2011 Tri-Nations-winning captain inking a new agreement to extend his career in Australia by an additional two years, taking him through until the end of Rugby World Cup 2015. "I'm happy to have my future resolved," Horwill said. "It was always my intention to remain in Australia. I've still got a lot more that I want to achieve with both the Wallabies and the Queensland Reds."
Horwill's retention, after the re-signing of backrower Scott Higginbotham, continues the progress shoring up the Wallabies forward pack as the countdown to the next Rugby World Cup begins in earnest. Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says the retention of Horwill and Higginbotham sends an important signal to other off-contract players, with the pair both being part of the core of the current Test side. "Players have choices and a lot of factors come into it," Deans says. "But a playing career is a finite thing so commitments aren't made lightly. The key is that these guys see the opportunity ahead, see the progress that is being made in the game in Australia, and want to play their part in continuing to bring it forward."
Horwill debuted in the Test arena against Fiji in 2007, and he approaches this year's Test schedule with 35 previous appearances to his name. This tally would undoubtedly have been greater but for a dreadful run with injury that rubbed him out of both the 2010 and 2012 international seasons.
"Obviously it's been frustrating at times, but you have to take the bad with the good," Horwill says. "The main thing is to focus on what's dead ahead, and that couldn't be more exciting. Playing the British & Irish Lions is a once in-a-lifetime opportunity, and you can feel the excitement around the country: be it the players, the rugby community or the general public. It's coming up quickly now and you can really feel that in the intensity it has brought to Super Rugby this year, especially in the derby games. The competition just to make the squad is fierce, which is exactly as it should be. It bodes well for what is going to be the series of a lifetime, both for the Test players but also those players who feature against the Lions in the tour matches. You just have to look at the power in the touring squad they have named to see that."
Horwill, who turns 28 at the end of the month, has led his country on eight occasions, after making his debut as leader during Australia's 25-20 win over New Zealand that secured the final Tri Nations title two years ago.
The popular Queenslander then led Australia to third at his maiden Rugby World Cup, but he has not featured in the Wallabies jersey since the 24-18 win over Wales in Cardiff at the end of 2011, having been ruled out of last year on the eve of the Test season when he badly ruptured a hamstring.
The long road to recovery saw a delayed start to the Super Rugby season, but Horwill responded once he returned, confirming his leadership credentials as the Test season approaches. He hopes to re-enter the Test arena back at Suncorp Stadium when the British & Irish Lions Test series kicks off on June 22.
James Horwill's Queensland Reds drew with Western Force in Super Rugby round 12 (video available only in Australia)
© ESPN Australia / New Zealand