Wallaby skipper James Horwill has reiterated his desire to face the Lions with the Reds as he prepares to make his long awaited comeback from injury this weekend.
Speculation remains rife as to whether Australia coach Robbie Deans will prevent his star players from featuring in the provincial fixtures prior to the three-match Test series this summer but Horwill hasn’t budged from his position of wanting to face Britain and Ireland’s elite with both club and country.
The 27-year-old second row doesn’t believe a blanket ban on Wallaby squad members turning out for their domestic teams is the way forward – instead he hopes Deans will opt to look at each individual case on merit.
“You’d love to play against the Lions, but that’s something you have to weigh up on an individual basis, on how each individual player is feeling and on how much football they’ve played at the time,” said Horwill, who took over the Wallaby captaincy from Rocky Elsom in August 2011.
“I don’t think you can put a blanket rule on it, that might make it tough on players.
“There will be certain guys who have played a lot of footy and will need some down time, and you’d fully understand that that’s the reason they’d take a bit of time out. But there will obviously be guys who haven’t played that much footy and would love the chance.
“For me personally, I’d love the opportunity to play against the Lions for Queensland, but that’s a bridge we’ll cross when we get closer to it. There’s a lot of rugby to be played between now and then.”
Horwill would definitely fit into the ‘haven’t played much footy’ category having not been involved at all for the past eight months.
The hamstring injury he suffered against the Brumbies in May saw him sit out much of the 2012 Super Rugby season, the summer Tests with Wales and Scotland, the inaugural Rugby Championship campaign and the entire end-of-year tour of Europe as experts struggled to fully understand the extent of the problem.
Friday’s final pre-season trial against the Chiefs on the Sunshine Coast will finally see Horwill end what he admits he has being the most frustrating period of his career and he is understandably desperate to get back to doing what he does best.
“It’s been a long time. It’s always very frustrating not being able to play,” added Horwill.
“It’s been eight-and-a-half months now since I’ve played so it’s an exciting time.
“Unfortunately, I’ve been through a number of long-term injuries and this has definitely been the most frustrating one for me.
“The uncertainty with the injury initially and not knowing what was going on with it means it’s been a bit of a guessing game throughout the wait. No one really knew how to handle it and that was the most frustrating part of it. You’ve just got to push through it and I’m glad I’m out the other end and am able to lace up the boots on Friday night.
“I’m ready to go. I feel right in myself and that’s probably the biggest thing, the confidence I have in myself to be able to push, to sprint, to get stuck into awkward positions. That’s all that matters.
“There’s no hesitation. We’ve done a lot in training and I’ve pretty much been training with the team since we got back in January.
“I’m just looking forward to getting back out there and blowing out some cobwebs, because I’m sure there’ll be plenty of them. As much as you try and simulate game situations in training, the reality is that you can’t really do that until you actually play.”