International Rugby
Horwill ruled out for Wallabies
October 3, 2008
Australian lock James Horwill scores a vital late try for the Wallabies during their resounding victory over New Zealand, Australia v New Zealand, Tri Nations, Stadium Australia, July 26 2008.
Horwill has started every one of the Wallabies' Tests this year © Getty Images
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Queensland lock forward James Horwill has been ruled out of the Wallabies' Spring Tour.

The 23-year-old second rower was today forced to withdraw from the trip due to the effect of on-going problems with an injury to a ligament in his foot. No decision as to a replacement has yet been made.

Horwill has been troubled since the Wallabies' 16-9 win over South Africa at Perth in July by pain emanating from the lisfranc ligament in his left foot. While he has been able to play on, investigation of the recurrent pain revealed a tear of the ligament which requires surgery to correct. This diagnosis was confirmed after Horwill was seen by a specialist in Brisbane this afternoon.

"Unfortunately the verdict of the specialist was that James is going to require surgery immediately to get the ligament repaired," said Wallabies coach Robbie Deans. "And that means having to forgo the opportunity to participate on our tour."

Horwill is facing a rehabilitation period following the surgery that could last for up to six months, meaning that he won't be available to return to the playing field for the Queensland Reds until possibly the midway point of next year's Super 14.

"It's disappointing news, but playing on wasn't an option," said Deans. "The injury had been given plenty of opportunity to settle but hasn't. While we've managed James through the back half of the Bundaberg Rum Rugby Series, the improvement to the ligament that was expected hasn't materialized. In that circumstance, there really wasn't any choice but to get the operation done, and get it done now."

It is a testament to Horwill's development in 2008 that he was one of just four players to start in every Test match for the Wallabies, in what was effectively his first full season as a Test player, following a one-off Test appearance last year against Fiji. Such was the level of his work load, he has only been absent from the field for 44 minutes of the Wallabies' Test campaign so far.

"It's probably of small comfort to James at the moment, but he's made an excellent start to his Test career, and one we all know that he is going to build on," said Deans.

In addition to experiencing 676 minutes of Test duty this winter, Horwill also ended the domestic Test programme as the joint-top try-scorer with four, alongside centre Ryan Cross, which highlights the level of energy he brought to the Wallabies.

This followed on from an excellent Investec Super 14 campaign for the Reds, where he carried his sequence of consecutive appearances for the side to 39, while also taking on the captaincy arm-band a few weeks before his 23rd birthday.

"It's a big blow for 'Kev' (Horwill) and I know he's desperately disappointed, but the key thing now is to get the surgery done, get in the break that he needs, and then go through the recovery stages without forcing anything," said Queensland Reds coach Phil Mooney.

"He certainly won't be rushed back. His body will tell us through the rehab period when the time is right. While he will obviously be missed by the Reds at the start of next season, there's no way we'll compromise his ability to contribute to both Queensland and Australia in the future by taking any unnecessary risks to try and get him back on the field any earlier than when he is ready."


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