Rob Horne making his mark on the Aussie sevens team: Walsh

Mens - Las Vegas
by Iain Payten

Australian men’s sevens coach Tim Walsh is hoping to convince former Wallaby Rob Horne to be involved with the team on a more regular basis after a successful managerial debut.

After being forced to retire last year due to a catastrophic arm injury, Horne was invited to join the Australian men’s sevens team as a part-time team manager on tour.

It was partly to cover when assistant coach Stephen Hoiles couldn’t tour, but also because Walsh wanted to have ex-Wallabies and ex-Aussie sevens players to be able to pass on their wisdom to a young team.

Horne was with the Australian side in New Zealand in January, and is this week in Las Vegas for round five of the World Series.

The 34-cap Wallabies back was at the centre of a special jersey presentation on top of Hoover Dam on Tuesday. Horne gave a stirring speech about seizing opportunity, Walsh said.

Bringing in Horne has been a hugely valuable move, the coach believes.

"Initially my plan was to get Classic Wallabies and Classic Sevens players, each with their own perspective. Guys who had been there and done that, who could add different things,” Walsh said.

“But then when ‘Hornet' came away, he really balanced the staff for us. Hoilesy, myself and Hornet, we almost had different skills. We combined well.

"He is a very wise man, beyond his years, and is straight up honest. He’s pretty black and white, and the boys were attracted to his style straight away.

"He’s going really well. He has been a massive asset, and we are trying to convince him to come on a lot more.”

Horne falls into the category of quietly spoken, but “when he talks, people listen”.

"He doesn’t overplay it. He hasn’t been watching and playing sevens for the last ten years, like I have,” Walsh said.

"But he is able to offer things, and that’s what I wanted these guys to bring. Things like preparation, the ability to deal with pressure, and some rugby things too.

"What’s a thing great, and I know as a player from what people told me, he was meticulous in his preparation and as a manager he is always ahead of the schedule. He is wanting detail. He is amazing from a manager point of view.

"He is super competitive, as we all are. He just doesn’t tolerate us not performing to our potential. They’re the standards we try to drive in this team.”

Horne’s injury left him paralysed in his right arm and his daily example of getting on with life is something that Walsh loves having around the team.

"He has gone through different emotional rollercoasters to get to where he is, but he can have a joke and a laugh and talk about things,” Walsh said.

It’s the nature of Rob. Some people might have drifted away (after a serious injury).

“But he has so much to offer and he is generous and hard-working. It is almost a no-brainer to have him involved in Australian rugby, and sevens is the beneficiary of it at the moment. Long may it continue. We would love to get some better results for ourselves to rejoice in but we’ll keep working.

"When you look to what the team needed, and still needs, he has it. We are chasing resilience, consistency and being that ruthless player. The way Rob played really. 

"And to be adaptive to any situation, which moreso than anyone, Rob is dealing with.

"And setting a fantastic example.”