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James Horwill: I have nothing to prove

Former Wallabies captain James Horwill is looking to rebuild his form with the Reds.

Former Wallabies captain James Horwill is looking to rebuild his form with the Reds. Photo: Reuters

Queensland Reds skipper James Horwill says he has nothing to prove after his difficult Wallabies
Spring Tour and believes he has settled on the right balance between aggression in the forwards and the diplomacy of captaincy.

Horwill was axed as Wallabies captain by coach Ewen McKenzie, his former Reds mentor who wanted him to concentrate on regaining his form on the field.

It was a bitter pill to swallow but after some welcome time away from the game in the off-season, Horwill has returned to Ballymore philosophical, fit and motivated to make every post a winner in 2014.

He will resume in the Reds’ first trial, against the Chiefs in Toowoomba this weekend, and says he feels no pressure to show he remains one of the premier locks in the Australian game.

Coach Richard Graham had no hesitations in giving Horwill another season in charge of the Reds, with the towering backrower in better shape than ever, having not spent pre-season in the rehab ward for a change.

Horwill stressed that winning games, whether it be for his province of his country, was top of his priority list, not whether he had the ‘c’ next his name on the team sheet.

‘‘You look back on things that happen. In the end, it is something I’ve thought about but it wasn’t the end of the world. That’s always the most important thing for me; whether you are captain or not, you want to win football games,’’ Horwill said.

‘‘That’s no different with the Wallabies or Reds. That’s the why I’ve looked at it.’’

Horwill’s critics have suggested some of the aggression had been sapped from his game as he juggled the captaincy with trying to inject the fire of an on-field enforcer.

It’s occasionally put Horwill in delicate spots and while he admits he doesn’t play with the outright aggression of his younger days, he believes he has the mix about right.

‘‘You always need to do what’s best for the team. The way you play, each person has a different asset. You need to bring that forward as much as possible without damaging the group,’’ Horwill said.

‘‘Part of my role in any team is to be aggressive and physical. But you don’t want to overstep the mark by giving away penalties or spending time off the field.

‘‘When I first started, I didn’t think about much else and the consequences didn’t feature in my mind like they do now. I was 20. The bigger picture wasn’t on my mind.  Now, I think I understand the role. It’s part of football and growing up.’’

Horwill’s shocking run with serious injuries over the years has made it difficult to find any fluency with his form. And while he doesn’t feel the need to prove he remains a powerful force, he said he would love to start the Super Rugby season in emphatic fashion.

‘‘I’d like to play well from the beginning. I’m focused on playing well for the Reds and winning. We have two interstate away games, one at home then off to Africa for two weeks. It’s a really critical part of the year for us. We need to set our season up,’’ he said.

The Reds take on the Chiefs in Toowoomba on Saturday, with Graham likely to pay extra attention to auditions for fullback, centres and wings before the season opener against the Brumbies in Canberra on February 22.

6 comments so far

  • James Horwill does have something to prove. That the display by the Wallabies against the All Blacks at Suncorp prior to the 2011 World Cup in his first game as Wallaby captain, where the Wallabies absolutely wiped the All Blacks off the paddock with extraordinary superiority in every facet, wasn’t just a fluke but was a foretelling of the real potential of the Wallabies, if they weren’t being sabotaged by that useless kiwi Deans.

    That Deans was unable to have much influence on the team that day with Horwill being newly in charge and doing it his way, was very telling. The Wallabies should have won the 2011 World cup emphatically had Deans not panicked and then decide to drastically change the Wallabies played after that game to a more boring kiwi style, that the All Blacks could more easily deal with so the Wallabies wouldn't smash his beloved All Blacks out of their home World Cup.

    James’ time has come.

    Commenter
    johnny-boy
    Date and time
    February 06, 2014, 8:51AM
    • The '@ johnny-boy...that Deans count' stands at 5 thus.... and counting

      Commenter
      Machooka
      Location
      inner west sydney
      Date and time
      February 06, 2014, 1:27PM
    • What are you smoking must be good in the dreamworld you live in,

      Commenter
      weka
      Date and time
      February 06, 2014, 5:30PM
  • The Wallabies winning the 2011 RWC emphatically? What planet are you on dear old Johnny-boy? The Wallabies were lucky to get past the South Africans and then got absolutely smacked by the ABs. And when will most Aussies get over Deans. The Wallabies are in a slump due to a low talent pool, made worse by a lack of a number of world class players in key positions. It is doesn't help having a number of spoilt Gen y's in the fold.

    Commenter
    Ivan
    Date and time
    February 06, 2014, 6:51PM
    • No jonny-boy...a one-off final home test with a chance to clinch the Tri nations title in 2011 is a very different prospect for a young inexperienced group of players (as the Wallabies were at the time) as opposed to going to a World Cup in New Zeeland and facing 3 very mature, experienced, hardened teams of men in Ireland, South Africa and the All Blacks. Rugby is a collision sport and the Wallaby forwards cannot dominate anyone of the top 6 teams. The opposition smash their forwards and the whole structure collapse after that, leaving the backs (as talented as they are) trying to do magic in high pressure test matches. Not gonna happen...

      Yes, the ABs were smashed in that test and I enjoyed it as well, but Leave Deans alone and focus on McKenzie trying to make the forward pack competitive....it's all about the forwards in our beloved game.

      Commenter
      Rouaan
      Location
      Cape Town
      Date and time
      February 06, 2014, 9:15PM
      • Here we go again - 2014 season hasn't even started and ol' Johnny Boy is still banging on about Robbie Deans. Here's a tip JB - nobody gives a shite about your opinions. You're a dinosaur, predictable & boring, so save your whining for your mother!

        Commenter
        World in Union
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        February 06, 2014, 11:05PM

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