Horsman determined to make Wales shirt his own
PA Sport
September 22, 2007

Chris Horsman is determined to cement his place as Wales' first-choice tight-head prop - even if that means upsetting one of the few friends he has in the front-row fraternity.

Horsman sat stewing for two weeks after being overlooked for Wales' opening World Cup match against Canada and the pivotal home clash with Australia.

But the 29-year-old produced an impressive display against Japan and, with Adam Jones struggling with a foot injury, he is now favourite to retain the jersey for next weekend's showdown with Fiji.

``When I do get my chance with Wales it's up to me to put my marker down,'' said Horsman.

``Every time I have been given that opportunity - a few years ago in the autumn, this year's Six Nations and now - I keep staking my claim.

``I'm getting to the point now where I've played 13 internationals and I want to cement my place in the team.

``Adam and I get on really, really well. Generally, in my position I don't normally get on that well with the people I'm competing with - but Adam is a great guy.

``We've realised in a World Cup we are not going to play all the games and whoever gets the job the other one roots for him. But we are also trying to put pressure on each other.''

Jones has been on crutches since last Monday after injuring his foot but remains hopeful he will be in a position to compete with Horsman for that number three jersey.

``I think I've torn a muscle and the bleeding has gone down into the nerve. I'm not an expert but it's a bit sore. Touch wood I'll be able to play against Fiji,'' said Jones.

Horsman plies his domestic trade for Worcester and, as a result, does not always feel he is competing with Jones on a level playing field.

Not only is he out of the immediate Welsh spotlight but in recent seasons Worcester have been struggling for the Guinness Premiership survival.

Horsman considered leaving Sixways two years ago but decided to stay put, signing a four-year deal, and he remains committed to that.

``It's always been difficult for me, not playing for one of the Welsh regions. It's an awkward situation to be in,'' he said.

``The player-base for the national squad is the regional set-up. They have that window - the Magners League and the Heineken Cup - where they can put their cases forward.

``Playing for a team like Worcester, particularly over the past few years when we've been at the bottom of the league, it's sometimes harder to press your case for a spot.

``It's a bit like a football player. If you play for Chelsea it's easier.

``At some points I was tempted to move back to Wales, but I made a decision to stay at Worcester.

``Cecil Duckworth has been very supportive of me and so have the supporters. We went through a lot as a team, so I made the decision to stay until 2010 and that's what I'm going to do.

``I've made my decision as a man and as a rugby player. Even if we are not going that well at Worcester, you have to stick it out.

``You can't be too mercenary and suddenly do what's best for you. At the end of the day Worcester are my club side.

``If I do well for them I will get my chance with Wales.''

Loyalty and respect are important factors for Horsman, who views life differently to most after successfully fighting two bouts of cancer.

Gareth Jenkins' decision to leave him out entirely for the Australia game hit Horsman hard but he has had worse and actually left the meeting with a new-found respect for the coaching staff.

Jenkins may have come in for fierce criticism from some of the local media in Wales, but he has Horsman's undivided support.

``I was bitterly disappointed to miss the Australia game. When I got told by Gareth and Robin McBryde I was absolutely devastated and really cross,'' said Horsman.

``But that's the type of reaction they wanted.

``Whatever criticism people have levelled at Gareth and his coaching staff, I think they are a fantastic coaching staff.

``They are genuinely honest and they are also their own men.

``They have had a lot of criticism and a lot of flak, but they have definitely stuck to their guns and that goes with their selection.

``When a man comes and sits you down and speaks to you as a man and tells you the reasons why you are not playing and doesn't try to give you a load of rubbish, you get angry and upset but you respect him for it.

``Much as I was disappointed, I did walk away with massive respect for the coaching staff.''

The Fiji game is do or die now for Wales but Horsman is confident they are ``building nicely'' and he vowed ``we'll do the nation proud``.

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