Horwill chooses country over cocktails

Matt Lewis Profile
by Matt Lewis

James Horwill could have been sipping cocktails in the Greek Islands next month but instead he’s coming home to play against England.

Horwill departed Australian Rugby at the end of the 2015 Super Rugby season to play for English Premiership club Harlequins, but has been vocal about his desire to play more Tests.

Most thought his international career was over when he was left out of the Wallabies Rugby World Cup squad, but just six months later he has returned to the fold.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said there wasn’t one thing that had necessarily changed in that time, rather that he was always after players that suited the task at hand.

James Horwill has spent 2016 playing for Harleqins in the English Premiership. Photo: Getty Images

“That’s the way it rolls sometimes,” Cheika said.

“What might be right for one game or one tour or one tournament may not be right (for the next), that player might be right for one thing but not the next.

“I just think that we try to do a lot of really nice detailed preparation work but sometimes you go with your gut a little bit and I think he's had a good solid season under his belt over there.”

Horwill is one of the few players overseas that have over 60 Wallabies caps to their name, making him still eligible for the Wallabies, and clearly still passionate to wear the gold jersey.

“He’s hungry to play again and he could easily just say, ‘I’m over here, I’m getting paid nicely. I’ll take my holidays’,” Cheika said.

“I think when I rang him about it he was on the Greek Islands.

“He could’ve easily kept his feet up over there with his wife and I’m sure she’s not happy about coming home, but if you’re prepared to make those choices then I’ve got a feeling you’ve got something to contribute when the whistle blows.

“I’m hoping he’s going to play better footy for Australia than he ever has before…I know he will because he’s making different sacrifices now to the ones he made before.”

One player that is keen to catch up with Horwill is former Reds teammate James Slipper who has been keeping tabs on mate while overseas.

Horwill will join the Wallabies in camp in Caloundra. Photo: Getty Images

“He’s been playing great rugby over there at Harlequins,” Slipper said.

“I’m sure he’s pretty keen to get down here and catch up with all the boys again and train hard, which I’m sure it’s going to be pretty tough next week in Caloundra.”

While Slipper also hopes Horwill’s latest stint in the UK will dividends for his side.

“Hopefully he’s got a few tips on how to take them on, but for ‘Kevvy’ he plays with his heart on his sleeve and he always put 100 per cent in for his country.”