Representative Honours: Queensland Schools, Queensland Under 19s 2004, Australian Under 21s 2005-2006, Australia A 2006, Australian Wallabies 2006 -
Senior Tours: UK, Ireland & Italy 2006, Hong Kong & Europe 2008, Japan & Europe 2009, RWC (New Zealand) 2011, England & Wales 2011, UK/Europe 2013
Captaincy Record: Won 8 (2011: NZ2, It, Russ, SA3, W1, W2; 2013: BIL2, Ar2); Lost 8 (2011: Ir, NZ3; 2013: BIL1, BIL3, NZ1, NZ2, SA2, NZ3) @ 50%
Queensland Reds lock JAMES HORWILL is well positioned to add to his impressive Rugby resume with Horwill only two game shy of joining the prestigious 50-game mark for the Qantas Wallabies.
It would be a deserving honour for the Wallabies general who last year returned to the Qantas Wallabies lineup for the first time since 2011.
While still hampered by injury early in the 2013 Super Rugby season, Horwill proved his fitness and was named captain of the Qantas Wallabies for their first Test series against the British & Irish Lions in 12 years.
He showed incredible passion for the Wallabies during the series and his importance to the team was emphasised by the fact he was one of just three Australians to feature in every minute of the Lions Tests, along with Ben Mowen and James O’Connor.
After making a successful return to the captaincy in the first Test, Horwill’s resurgence was almost cut short when he was cited for a perceived reckless boot to the head of Lions lock Alun-Wyn Jones at a breakdown.
The incident became one of the most polarizing issues of the Lions series, with Horwill initially cleared of the incident by the judiciary, but forced to endure another hearing with the IRB appealing the decision. Horwill was again cleared following the second Test and was free to play in the series decider.
Despite the loss Horwill would rebound to captain the Wallabies in 8 of their 15 Tests in 2013, while he also played in 13 Tests during the year, only missing games against South Africa and Argentina with a hamstring injury.
After reaching the height of becoming a winning Tri Nations captain in 2011, Horwill endured the other end of the spectrum two years ago, playing no part at all in the 2012 Test season.
The popular Queenslander was scratched from the entire Qantas Wallabies campaign after splitting his hamstring on the eve of the first Wallabies assembly, whilst leading the Reds in Canberra.
The injury followed a year that had unquestionably been the height of Horwill’s career to date, in 2011, where he was a two-time title-winner, with the Queensland Reds in Super Rugby and then the Qantas Wallabies in the final Tri Nations. This was followed by his maiden Rugby World Cup – where Horwill led as Wallabies captain.
When he led Australia in the opening match of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, James Horwill became the 12th player to lead the Wallabies at the tournament, in what was Australia’s 34th Rugby World Cup match. He was the sixth Queenslander to have the honour bestowed on him, with Will Genia becoming the seventh when he led Australia against the United States – a game from which Horwill was rested.
The Reds’ skipper was appointed as Australia’s leader prior to the Qantas Wallabies’ win over the All Blacks in the Tri Nations decider, becoming the 77th Australian Test captain when he led the side to a thrilling 25-20 victory over New Zealand in that game. The victory secured just Australia’s third Tri Nations title, and its first in a decade.
Now 28, Horwill made his debut for Australia against Fiji in 2007 but missed selection for the Rugby World Cup later that year. He was reinstated for the first Test a year later, scoring his maiden Test try in the 18-12 win over Ireland at Melbourne.
It is a testament to the enormity of his influence that, when available, Horwill was rested just twice between 2008 and 2011. His only two non-injury related breaks in that time were against Samoa in 2011, held just one week after the Reds’ Super Rugby final win, and Australia’s Rugby World Cup clash with the United States in New Zealand.
The whole-hearted Queenslander’s ‘rise’ has not been without its dead ends: in 2008 he was forced out of Australia’s Spring Tour, and then the first half of the 2009 Super Rugby season, due to a nasty Lisfranc injury in his foot. A year later, he blew out his knee ligaments in the second round of Super Rugby playing against the Crusaders, with the injury forcing him to the sidelines for the rest of the 2010 season. A hamstring injury then rubbed out another Test season and he experienced a late start to the season last year due to a leg complaint.
Despite the challenges, Horwill’s enthusiasm and work rate has been a constant. This manifested itself during his first full domestic Test season in 2008, where he finished as Australia’s equal leading try-scorer for the year with four (tied with centre Ryan Cross), despite being unable to take his place on that year’s Spring Tour.
Horwill returned from injury in 2009 to become one of just four players to feature in all 14 Test matches played by Australia that year – but the only player to start in every one. Horwill scored tries in the first and last matches played by the Wallabies that year – against the Barbarians in Sydney and then Wales in Cardiff; and picked up the habit again in his most recent Test season in 2011. His opening try of that year, in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final against South Africa in Wellington, was critical as it was the only one scored by either side as Australia got home 11-9.
Horwill then came off the bench to torment the Barbarians again, scoring two tries in the second half of the whopping 60-11 win at Twickenham, which kicked off Australia’s two-game Spring expedition with a bang.
A permanent selection for the Reds since his debut in 2006, aside from his injury ‘breaks’; Horwill strung 39 successive games for Queensland together starting from his debut, before being forced to make a delayed start to the 2009 campaign.
The 2011 Super Rugby final was his 64th appearance in the competition, with his half century being raised in unfortunate circumstances as the Reds suffered defeat against arch rivals NSW in the second round of that year’s competition.
Horwill has had wide exposure to wild fortune swings during his state career, having been a part of the Queensland side (alongside halfback Will Genia and flyhalf Quade Cooper) that was humiliated 92-3 by a rampant Bulls outfit at Loftus Versfeld in the final match of 2007 – a result that condemned the Reds to the competition wooden spoon for the first time.
A year later, Horwill was at the forefront as Queensland hammered the same Bulls side 40-8 in Brisbane.
The memory of the darkest day of Queensland’s then 124-year history made the 2011 title all the sweeter, with Horwill 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 which had qualified as top seeds but then been eliminated in the semi-finals.
Although now firmly established as the ‘face’ of Queensland Rugby, Horwill's family actually hails from Melbourne. This saw him start off his sporting activity in Australian Rules Football before switching to Rugby when he attended Brisbane Boys College.