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Lions match-up: James Horwill v Richie Gray

  
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12/14/2012
By ARU Media Unit


 

James Horwill

Richie Gray

Position

Lock

Lock

Height

200cm

207cm

Weight

115kg

126kg

Born

29 May 1985

24 August 1989

Age

27

23

Debut

2007 v Fiji, Perth

2010 v France, Murrayfield

Caps

35

27

Points

30 (6T)

5 (1T)

 

With about five and a half months to go until next year’s highly anticipated British & Irish Lions Tour to Australia, we continue to take a look at the potential clashes when the Qantas Wallabies do battle with the 2013 British & Irish Lions.

This week we look at the locks who may come head to head during the historic Lions Tour. Next year fans will be treated to a huge Rugby spectacle should Australia’s leading man, James Horwill face Scotland’s reliable giant, Richie Gray.
 
The last time the Lions visited Australia in 2001, James Horwill was just 16 years old and Richie Gray just 12. The two have come a long way in their Rugby careers since with both transforming into two great and integral components within their teams. 
 
James Horwill
 
Although considered the face of Queensland Rugby, James Horwill started in Australian Rules Football in Melbourne, where his family originated. He began playing Rugby at Brisbane Boys College following their move to Queensland. 
 
It was there that he represented Queensland Schools and his Rugby career kicked off, becoming a member of the Queensland Under 19s in 2004 before representing Australia in the Under 21s in 2005-2006 and the Australia A team in 2006.
 
2006 was also the year Horwill debuted for the Queensland Reds where he has been a permanent selection for the side ever since, aside from a few injury pauses. 
 
His talents were recognised a year later when he was called into the Qantas Wallabies side against Fiji in 2007, despite missing selection for the Rugby World Cup later that year. 
 
In 2008 Horwill was handed the Captaincy reigns for the Queensland Reds, where his ability to lead from the front whilst impressing on the field earnt him a reinstatement into the Qantas Wallabies.  
 
Horwill didn’t disappoint upon his return to the Australian side under Robbie Deans, with his maiden Test try achieved in the 18-12 win over Ireland in Melbourne, before adding another in Australia’s famous 32-19 victory over the All Blacks in Sydney. 
 
During that season, his first full domestic Test season, he finished as Australia’s equal leading try-scorer for the year. 
 
Despite missing a place on the 2008 Spring Tour due to injury, Horwill returned in 2009 to become one of four players to feature in all 14 Test matches that were played by the Wallabies that year, but was the only one to start in every single game. 
 
He crossed the line for two tries that year in the first and last matches played by Australia against the Barbarians in Sydney and Wales in Cardiff.
 
2011 was a huge year for Horwill as he became a two-title winner with his Queensland Reds and Qantas Wallabies teams. He was the first Queenslander to hold up the Super Rugby trophy in the professional era (post 1995), bettering the achievement of the Reds’ sides of 1996 and 2000, who made it as far as the semi-finals. The final game was his 64th appearance in the Super Rugby competition.
 
2011 was also the year he was announced as the Qantas Wallabies’ Captain, becoming the 77th man to lead Australia following the thrilling 25 – 20 win over the All Blacks in the Tri Nations decider. The call up was a testament to Horwill’s relentless performance, having been an automatic selection, when available, for the prior four seasons.
 
Horwill became the 12th player to lead the Wallabies at a Rugby World Cup tournament and was just the sixth Queenslander to have the honour bestowed on him.
 
His influence is such that the match against the USA during the 2011 Rugby World Cup was just his second Wallabies Test match that he had been allowed to miss since the start of 2008.
 
He scored a crucial try in the Rugby World Cup quarter final against South Africa, it being the only try scored that game by either side and helped Australia to a close 11 – 9 victory. 
 
Following the Rugby World Cup Horwill came off the bench in the game against the Barbarians in Twickenham scoring two tries in the second half of the whopping 60-11 victory to Australia. 
 
Despite injury challenges, Horwill’s passion and work rate has been constant. His return to the Wallabies squad in 2013 is therefore highly anticipated. With his natural strength as a leader, Horwill is thought of by many as a vital addition in the Australian side to face the 2013 British & Irish Lions. 
 
During his time leading the Qantas Wallabies as Captain he’s won six games and lost just two and stands as a definite potential for the leading role when Australia face the Lions in 2013.  
 
Richie Gray
 
Richie Gray’s Rugby playing days began early with the Kelvinside Academy pupil representing Glasgow in the Under 15s, 16s and 18s. He started playing for his country in under 17s and the under 18s, which included the Six Nations Festival in Glasgow in April 2007. 
 
Gray was called up to the Glasgow Warriors in 2008 after representing Scotland again earlier in the year in the under 19s and under 20s. He also played in two games in the IRB Junior World Championship in Wales in June 2008 before his tournament was cut short by injury. 
 
He returned to the Under 20 team for the opening game of the 2009 Six Nations Championship in style, with his performance during Scotland’s close 18-17 victory over Wales earning him the man-of the match honour. 
 
During the same Championship he captained the Under 20s side to a 35 – 20 victory against Ireland and had an impressive role in the win against Italy. 
 
He was also Captain in the final match against England. By the end of the Championship he was among 11 players who had started for Scotland to star in all five Championship games.
 
He then went on to play in all five of Scotland’s games in the IRB Junior World Championship in Japan, captaining the team again in the Tokyo match against England.
 
2009 was the year the tall lock signed a new two year deal with the Warriors as they reached the top of the Magners League. 
 
Gray made his senior level debut for Scotland off the bench against France in the Six Nations opener at Murrayfield in February 2010. 
 
His first run on start came during the November internationals in the same year in the Test at Murrayfield against New Zealand. 
 
He grew as a player during those November internationals, with a standout performance against France in Paris and receiving the man of the match honour in the game against Italy in Murrayfield. 
 
His impressive form continued throughout 2011, winning the man of the match award once again for his triumphant display in Scotland's 21-8 win over Italy in March.
 
His efforts were duly recognised during the 2011 Rugby World Cup later that year where he started in all of Scotland’s matches in the tournament.
 
In 2012 his form didn’t wane as he scored his first try for Scotland in the loss to Ireland during the 2012 RBS Six Nations Championship. 
 
Gray’s superb contribution in the lineout and open play has proven his integral place for Scotland. He’s also a reliable and consistent player having started in 22 out of the 27 Tests he’s played for Scotland. 
 
As a former Captain, Gray has the talent, assets and ability to be a potential unstoppable force within the 2013 Lions squad.  
 
At 207cm tall Gray has a huge height advantage in the line-outs, yet Horwill isn’t that far behind and can prove just as much an advantage when jumping for the ball. His slightly leaner frame may also help in this situation, however with 126kgs of power behind him Gray provides a lot of power and strength. 
 
Whilst Gray may have youth on his side, with 8 more Test caps to his name Horwill has more experience with the added benefit of Captaining his side to victory in international matches, and potential to do the same in 2013. 
 
Horwill has also scored more tries, however once again Gray’s youth and fervour could see him add more points to his stats tally in upcoming Tests, which could include Lions matches against Australia should he make the team. 
 
Horwill against Gray is yet another potential match-up that would see many a fan on the edge of their seat should the two sturdy towering powerhouses come together on next year’s Lions Tour. 
 
Don’t miss out on your chance to be part of Rugby history in Australia on a Tour that’s been 12 Years in the Making. Tickets for the 2013 British & Irish Lions go on sale 18 February 2013, click here for more information.