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Horwill says stats show Wallabies a quality side

Fighting back ... James Horwill.

Fighting back ... James Horwill. Photo: Getty Images

JAMES HORWILL has countered New Zealand claims the Wallabies had gone backwards since the World Cup, and praised his teammates' ''guts and fortitude'' following their win in Argentina at the weekend.

The injured Australian captain said comments by former All Blacks captain Taine Randell about an ''unprecedented'' drop in standards by the Wallabies this year ignored the fact they finished second in the Rugby Championship, under major injury pressures.

''We are still ranked No.2 in the world and we finished second in the Rugby Championship, so technically we haven't gone backwards and at the start of the year Robbie [Deans] and the coaching staff didn't think they would have to use as many players as we have, so I certainly don't think we've gone backwards,'' Horwill said.

Randell, a loose forward who notched more than 50 caps for the All Blacks, penned a stinging opinion piece targeting Australia's performance this year and their lack of ''confidence, courage and loyalty''.

''It's not acceptable to shrug that off as just a bad season complicated by injuries and coming against the best teams in the world,'' he wrote. ''Their drop in standards has been unprecedented in recent times.''

Randell said Australia did not have enough good players and should drop a province from the conference, adding: ''This isn't a development competition; it's meant to be the global pinnacle of provincial rugby''.

Horwill conceded depth was a problem in Australia but said a fifth team was crucial in the absence of a third-tier competition.

''I wouldn't have got my chance so early if it hadn't been for the Force taking two of Queensland's starting second-rowers, Nathan Sharpe and Rudi Vedelago,'' he said.

''Dave Pocock is another example; he saw the opportunity to go to Perth from Queensland and he wouldn't have had that opportunity had the Force not existed. These guys would have got their opportunities eventually but not so early.''

Horwill praised the Wallabies for their six-point win over the Pumas in Argentina and said they needed to add precision to determination if they are to beat the All Blacks in Brisbane on October 20.

''Everyone was writing them off beforehand, saying they weren't up to it, not giving them a chance, and the boys won't say it was perfect but sometimes you have to find a way and they did,'' he said.

''Now we need to be more clinical against the All Blacks; we can't gift them opportunities to score when they just continue to attack your line … They'll stick at it and stick at it - that's what you saw against the Springboks - and when they did get one they made the most of it. That's what makes them such good team.''

Randell took aim at the ARU, saying chief executive John O'Neill's ''expand at all costs'' approach had weakened the code.

Rebels head coach Damien Hill defended the record of Australia's youngest franchise, saying the ARU was trying to build a bigger base of talent on which to draw.

''[Replacement halfback] Nick Phipps has done a tremendous job for the Wallabies and [winger] Cooper Vuna also got a start out of here, while [second-rower] Cadeyrn Neville is knocking on the door as well,'' Hill said.

''That's the job of every team in Australia, to produce Wallabies. Having five franchises with that focus in mind has got to be better for the national cause. The short-term view is that there are going to be hiccups along the way but the long-term view is that it will be the best thing for Australian rugby.''

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Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG -1vs FJI -1 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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