JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Wounded skippers don't lose hope of knocking All Blacks off perch

Date

After a season of discontent, injured Wallabies captains James Horwill and David Pocock talk to Georgina Robinson.

Gold nugget ... James Horwill tackles the All Blacks.

Gold nugget ... James Horwill tackles the All Blacks. Photo: Getty Images

Georgina Robinson: It's been a tough couple of months for Australian rugby - its players and its fans. Losses, injuries, controversy and now you've slipped to No.3 in the world. Tell us why there is still hope.

James Horwill: Well, I think every cloud has a silver lining, you have to make sure you're positive about things, and I think certainly there's some guys that have been playing who probably wouldn't have had the opportunity if everything had gone according to plan. I think a guy that's a good example of that is a guy like Michael Hooper - obviously he's been outstanding, and if Poey [Pocock] had have been fit you probably wouldn't have imagined at the start of the year that he would have got as much football as he has. [Sitaleki Timani]'s another one [and] Dom Shipperley.

David Pocock: It has certainly given players an opportunity and this should add to the depth of the Wallabies in years to come. It has been a tough year. We had injuries in the June Tests but managed to win the series against a spirited Welsh team, but to beat the All Blacks and Springboks you have to be on top of your game and we have fallen short against them. I don't think it is due to a lack of effort, we have just not been good enough on the night and it is a steep learning curve at that level.

GR: Can you get back to No.2 in the world?

JH: Definitely. There is no doubt we can. I think we all need to keep performing, keep focusing on things we do well. [The Springboks Test] wasn't a great outing and we didn't play as well as we could have and it's always disappointing when that happens because you always want to play to the best of your ability and the guys are probably the first to admit that we didn't do that. But we still have guys in the team who have great ability and we've got guys who are hopefully coming back soon to bolster the ranks.

DP: I think the short answer is yes, but I'd preface that by saying that it will take a lot of hard work and some very good player management during the Super Rugby season to ensure we have as many players available for selection as possible come the June Tests and then later in the year. New Zealand are clearly the best in the world at the moment and that has been evident in this tournament - that is the challenge - to close the gap and become more deserving.

GR: Is the No.1 ranking a pipe dream?

JH: I don't think it's a pipe dream at all. We know that we as a country, on our day, have the ability to beat any country in the world. Being No.1 in the world is a by-product of performing well all the time in every outing that you have.

GR: Which means it's a by-product also of beating the All Blacks. Some people say there's daylight between the teams. Is that true?

JH: We get an opportunity in [one] week's time to prove that we can match it with them and I'm confident we can. While they've been playing excellent rugby with an exceptional amount of depth in all areas of their game, they're not unbeatable. I talked about consistency, even when they have an off day they are still able to grind out a win. They are an amazing side but I still don't think they're that far ahead of everyone else. It's not a bridge too far, so to speak.

GR: David, it seems a long while since the Wallabies beat the All Blacks. If you can cast your mind back to those victories, what did it take to beat them then and what will it take to do it again?

DP: Accuracy. Taking our opportunities, and a good team performance. We are certainly capable of it but playing against a team like New Zealand you have to take your opportunities. They haven't scored many tries against us in the close games but we have not capitalised on opportunities that we've created. And that's crucial.

GR: James, on Twitter a little while ago you posted a video clip for a song called Don't You Worry Child under the ''Team Rehab'' hashtag. I'm going to read you a few lines of that song: I was a king I had a golden throne / Those days are gone, now the memories are on the wall … Should we be worried about you, James?

JH: No, I don't think so. I'm just a bit of a Swedish House Mafia fan, it was their last ever song and I just loved the video clip. I like my house/dance music and it's a song that goes on quite loud in the gym.

GR: So journalists should lay off the psychoanalysis?

JH: Yeah, I think we're looking too much into the words there. I just like the beat.

GR: David, do you have an anthem or anything helping you get through the post-op/rehabilitation period? I won't go ferreting for lyrics.

DP: [Hip hop artist] Lupe Fiasco has been blaring out the speakers for the three boxing sessions I've done with [Brumbies winger] Joe Tomane this week. It's been great. Boxing with Lupe and a whole heap of others - I'll have to start sharing a few of my Spotify playlists.

GR: Does it take a certain measure of faith to come back from serious injury?

JH: You need to make sure you don't leave anything to chance and you've got to have faith in the people around you and their expertise. The surgeons, the physios etc. But a lot of it does come down to your individual desire and commitment to it. It is not a nice place to be, it's boring and never fun, especially early on, when you think, 'How did I ever do that, that used to be me running around, running into people, and now I can hardly walk'. You have to have faith in your individual ability and then you have to set short-term goals to get you to the long-term goal.

DP: Yeah, that's an interesting way to put it but it probably does. By the time you get back to playing you've done so much work with the medical team and strength and conditioning coaches that you just have to trust the program and that you have done the hard work and are good to go. There are always a lot more nerves than usual that first game back but you wouldn't have it any other way. It's so exciting getting back to training and playing with the group. You really miss it.

GR: Has it been frustrating watching your friends struggle and the game go through a tough period, without being able to contribute in the way you usually do?

JH: It's extremely frustrating. Every time I've always wanted so badly for them to do well and it's never nice to see things not go their way or them not play as well as they want to. You do your bit and try to help them and so forth but when things don't go according to plan it's tough, feeling helpless.

DP: It is always frustrating not playing. As for the game going through a hard period, I think it's important we maintain some perspective. There are a lot of guys … getting their first real taste of rugby at this level - that is so important for us as a group going forward. The learnings, both individually and as a team, over the past few months are crucial if we are to build as a team.

GR: Will Genia told me that since he's been injured he sometimes messages the assistant coaches a few tips at half-time, from the comfort of his couch at home - are you guys as hands-on?

JH: I text occasionally, but it's a bit difficult to do that. I try and stay in contact but sometimes you have to give them their own space. Will's been more involved than me unfortunately this season, I've missed much more. I often text the players though but you've got to give them their own space as well.

DP: No, that's not my go. I think it's important to support the team and stay in touch, but I haven't tried to add my say in things while I have been injured - they have enough going on without that.

GR: What's your game ritual been like at home - do you watch the matches live or record them, at home, with friends, etc?

JH: I watched the Springboks game live, certainly it's very frustrating being so far away and I really struggled to get back to sleep after that one. I was a bit riled up and a little bit frustrated with the way things were going. You never like watching the guys suffer. I also try and watch it on my own. My girlfriend is sometimes brave enough to watch it with me. But I'm not really one for watching it in a group, I get a bit vocal and start yelling stuff and get a bit frustrated.

DP: I watch them live. The game against Argentina on the [Gold Coast] was a couple of days after Emma and I moved to Canberra, so we didn't have a TV but figured most pubs would show it. Wrong - not when the Raiders are in the finals! We finally found a uni pub that had it on and watched quietly in the corner and then left straight after it finished. I get really nervous watching and stay very quiet. On a positive note, I have really enjoyed watching guys getting opportunities. I think Michael Hooper has been superb this tournament. He has had a huge work rate.

GR: You have both been mentioned as possibles on the end-of-year tour. What chance are you both in a percentage sense?

JH: I dunno, there's still things I need to do. It's hard to tell a percentage because I don't really know. As I keep ticking the boxes it might get easier to say that with confidence. I'm certainly running and starting to do more rugby specific stuff, which is important. I guess I'm confident if it keeps going the way it is then I should be OK.

DP: My injury is a bit different to James because it isn't muscular. I have got through a lot of work over the past month and a bit - it has been a bit of a mini pre-season, which is great. It's improving slowly but at this stage it's hard to put a definite time frame on it.

GR: If you both end up on tour, who will be captain?

JH: That's probably not for me to decide, it's a decision for the coaching staff. And you just concentrate on getting back. It's too early for me anyway to worry about that.

DP: That doesn't concern me at all. The priority is just to get on the trip and back to playing.

GR: What's something you wish fans and supporters understood about life in the Wallabies?

JH: I think the main thing is that every player goes out there giving his all for his country and there's never someone who goes out there and doesn't put everything they've got on that field. We all make mistakes and things don't always go our way but it's not through a lack of effort or commitment. I'm not saying everyone does but there are times people say [players] don't care about what they do or this and that. But knowing our group and knowing what it takes, playing for your country is a huge honour for everyone.

DP: For me, it's important that fans know how much we appreciate their support. Twenty-two players get to pull on the jersey but they represent so many more - and it wasn't long ago we were fans and shared that elation and disappointment watching at stadiums or on TV. Our time as players is short so we need to be doing everything we can to leave a legacy for the future players and living and playing in a way that brings pride to our fans and supporters.

Related Coverage

Super Rugby 2015

Round 1
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Stats
HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Stats
LIO 19 vs STO 22 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs HIG 17:35WS
BRU vs FOR 19:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU vs LIO 17:35QBE Stadium
RED vs WAR 19:40SS
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT vs BUL 02:05FSS
STO vs SHA 04:10DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs BLU 17:35FMG Stadium
FOR vs REB 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs LIO 14:30AMI
HIG vs WAR 17:35FBS
RED vs BRU 19:40SS
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO vs CHF 00:00DHL Newlands
CHT vs SHA 02:05FSS
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG vs HUR 17:35FBS
REB vs LIO 19:40AAMI
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs CHT 17:35AMI
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL vs FOR 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs CHF 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
WAR vs BRU 16:05AS
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs REB 17:35WS
RED vs LIO 20:00SS
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs CHT 14:30WS
HIG vs STO 17:35FBS
WAR vs BLU 19:40AS
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs FOR 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
BUL vs CRU 04:10Loftus Versfeld
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs STO 18:35WS
REB vs RED 20:40AAMI
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs BLU 18:35WS
BRU vs CHT 20:40GIO Stadium
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs CRU 01:00Growthpoint Kings Park
LIO vs BUL 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BRU 18:35EP
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HIG 18:35AMI
WAR vs STO 20:40AS
FOR vs CHT 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
BUL vs RED 00:00Loftus Versfeld
LIO vs SHA 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs CHF 18:35AMI
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR vs WAR 15:30WS
HIG vs BLU 18:35FBS
BRU vs REB 20:40GIO Stadium
FOR vs STO 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA vs BUL 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
CHT vs RED 04:10FSS
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF vs FOR 18:35WS
BRU vs HIG 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs BLU 18:35AMI
WAR vs REB 20:40ANZ
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO vs CHT 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BUL 04:10DHL Newlands
RED vs HUR 17:05SS
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG vs SHA 18:35FBS
BRU vs WAR 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs FOR 16:30EP
HUR vs CRU 18:35WS
REB vs CHF 20:40AAMI
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs STO 02:05FSS
BUL vs LIO 04:10Loftus Versfeld
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs RED 18:35AMI
REB vs BLU 20:40AAMI
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs SHA 18:35WS
FOR vs WAR 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs HIG 00:00Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BRU 02:05DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BUL 18:35EP
RED vs REB 20:40SS
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs CHF 18:35WS
WAR vs SHA 20:40AS
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs BRU 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
CHT vs HIG 04:10FSS
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF vs BUL 18:35Rotorua International Stadium
RED vs SHA 20:40SS
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HUR 18:35Emirates Airlines Park
WAR vs CRU 20:40ANZ
FOR vs HIG 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs LIO 02:05FSS
STO vs REB 04:10DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HUR 18:35Trafalgar Park
BRU vs BUL 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA vs REB 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
HIG vs CHF 18:35Rugby Park
FOR vs RED 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
STO vs CHT 02:05DHL Newlands
LIO vs WAR 04:10Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR vs HIG 18:35McLean Park
FOR vs BRU 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB vs BUL 16:30AAMI
BLU vs CRU 18:35EP
RED vs CHF 20:40SS
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
CHT vs WAR 00:00FSS
STO vs LIO 02:05DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HIG 18:35EP
REB vs FOR 20:40AAMI
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU vs CRU 16:30GIO Stadium
CHF vs HUR 18:35Yarrow Stadium
WAR vs RED 20:40AS
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL vs CHT 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs STO 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Brumbies 3 2 1 0 47 10
Hurricanes 3 3 0 0 47 13
Stormers 3 3 0 0 26 12
Cheetahs 2 2 0 0 7 9
Chiefs 3 3 0 0 31 13
Rebels 3 1 2 0 -5 6
Highlanders 2 1 1 0 1 5
Sharks 3 1 2 0 3 6
View all
 
Featured advertisers