The 1990s saw many great centres grace the international rugby stage – Frank Bunce, Jeremy Guscott, Will Carling, Walter Little, Jason Little, Daniel Herbert, Phillippe Sella, Japie Mulder – but the brilliant Queenslander Tim Horan arguably stands above them all.
Predominantly a No.12, Horan boasted the vision and playmaking instincts of a flyhalf, combined with electric footwork and speed off the mark to rival any player in world rugby, while he was a rock-solid defensive presence in the midfield.
Sydney-born but educated at Toowoomba’s Downlands College, Horan made his Test debut against the all-conquering All Blacks at Eden Park in 1989 – less than three months after his 19th birthday.
In his second Test against France later that year, Horan was paired in the centres with debutant, Queensland teammate, Souths club-mate and fellow teenager Jason Little, with Horan crossing for two tries. Horan and Little would go on to form one of the most effective, enduring and illustrious midfield combinations the code has ever seen.
Horan was one of the stars of the Wallabies’ watershed 1991 World Cup triumph, while he was named Player of the Tournament as Australia became the first two-time winner of the William Webb Ellis Trophy eight years later, one of three survivors of the inaugural success, along with John Eales and Little (who came off the bench in the ’99 final).
Versatile enough to play nine Tests in the No.10 jumper, Horan overcame a terrible knee injury in 1994 that kept him out of action for a year, while he captained the Wallabies in 1996. He played one last Test after the 1999 World Cup – fittingly, a win over Argentina in 2000 at Ballymore, where Horan had enjoyed countless days of glory for Australia and Queensland.
Horan finished with the stellar record of 80 Tests for the Wallabies and 30 Test tries, Australian tallies that were behind only David Campese in both instances.
A star at Brisbane club Souths when rep commitments allowed and a long-serving state rep, Horan was a linchpin for the Queensland Reds during the first five seasons of Super Rugby, before wrapping up one of the great rugby careers with a offshore stints at Saracens FC.
Horan was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2006 and was made a Member of the Order of Australia three years later.
TIM HORAN – CAREER OVERVIEW
Australia (1989-2000): 80 Tests – 30 tries (140 points)
Queensland Reds (1996-2000)