Waratahs players received a timely dose of inspiration ahead of their quarter-final victory over the Highlanders by spending time with injured mate Rob Horne last week, NSW captain Bernard Foley revealed.
Horne was on hand to watch the Waratahs score their memorable comeback win at Allianz Stadium, sitting in an empty coaches box with ex-Tahs teammates Dean Mumm and Michael Hooper.
The former Wallaby opened up earlier in the week on the gravity of the injury he sustained playing for Northhampton earlier in the year, where Horne suffered a brachial plexus avulsion.
The injury saw him detach nerves from his spinal cord and Horne has been left with paralysis in his right arm.
The Waratahs players and coaching staff didn’t know Horne - a 101-game Waratah and member of the 2014 title-winning team - would be at their game.
But they were delighted to learn he’d been watching on.
Foley said a number of players had already spent time with Horne since he returned from England.
“I know he got back during the week and a lot of the guys went and caught up with him,” Foley said.
“It was pretty emotional and I think the guys, speaking with him and sitting with him, were really touched to have him back and behind this squad because he was such a vital member and guys have such good relationships with him.”
Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said he was sure Horne would have been “very proud” to see his friends get the win.
Horne will be honoured with a Testimonial match at Twickenham in October when Northhampton play Leicester Tigers.
“I am still in the early stages of what has been a life-changing injury and event for me,” Horne said in an interview on the Saints website.
“It’s still very early days but I am getting there.”