St.George Queensland Reds captain James Horwill will earn a milestone 100th cap for his side this weekend as they take on the Hurricanes in an ANZAC Round clash in Wellington.
The Reds’ skipper made his debut for the Reds back in 2006 against the Waratahs and first captained the side in 2008.
Now in his ninth season with the Reds, Horwill led Queensland through its revival period, including the 2011 title run. He is the 27th player to earn 100 caps for Queensland and only the second of the current playing squad, along with Greg Holmes.
Reds coach Richard Graham commended his skipper for his durability and commitment to the team’s cause over the years.
“It is impossible to escape James’ passion for the Reds. He very proudly represents Queensland Rugby, the organisation and its supporters on all levels,” Graham said.
“There have been some dark days for James, with significant injuries, but his perseverance and persistence have paid off. This incredible milestone makes James the 27th Queenslander to play 100 or more capped games and it is something he is extremely proud to have achieved.”
Horwill admitted he was looking forward to leading the team for such a milestone game, but that a win would make it all the more memorable.
“Earning my 100th cap for Queensland is a huge honour and something I’m very proud to be able to achieve,” Horwill said.
“Some of the greatest moments of my time in Rugby have been in Queensland colours and there is still so much I want to achieve with this group.
“It would mean a lot to me to get a win in my 100th, but it would also mean a lot to this group because we know what we need to do to get back to playing finals Rugby.”
Reds head coach Richard Graham has made four changes to the starting side that narrowly lost to the Brumbies in Round 9.
“The squad has a clear picture of where we sit and we understand that it will take a collective effort to get the results we need in New Zealand,” Graham said.
“The Hurricanes are in good form. The game will be high paced and we’ll need to manage it well to get the right outcome. All of the squad will have a responsibility to that end.”
In the forwards, Ben Daley returns from a knee injury suffered in South Africa to replace Greg Holmes at loosehead and Saia Fainga’a takes over from James Hanson as starting hooker.
“Ben’s rehabilitation has been very good. He and the medical and strength and conditioning staff need to be commended for his quick return from injury. He plays the game with a high level of physicality and that will be important in the early exchanges this weekend,” Graham said.
“Saia and James (Hanson) have proven a very good combination throughout the season regardless of who starts. Saia scrummed well in our last match against the Brumbies and deserves the opportunity to start. He understands how important it is to set the game up and James will finish.”
In the backs, Mike Harris returns from an Achilles injury that ruled him out of the last match, replacing Anthony Fainga’a at inside centre and Jamie-Jerry Taulagi comes onto the wing at the expense of Rod Davies.
“Mike has recovered well from an Achilles injury which kept him out of the Brumbies match. Whilst I thought Ant (Fainga’a) did some very good things in the game, we’ll use Mike a little differently in this game tactically,” Graham said.
“JJ has had a start and time off the bench. On both occasions I have been impressed by his play at this level. He is deserving of another start and will prove a handful if we can create space and opportunities for him.”
The match will also see Ben Tapuai earn a milestone 50th cap for Queensland.
“Nothing at this level happens by chance. Ben has learnt this season that consistent preparation leads to consistent performance,” Graham said.
“50 caps is good reward and we look forward to Ben being part of the Reds for a long time yet.”
St.George Queensland Reds team to play Hurricanes?
1. Ben Daley
2. Saia Fainga’a
3. James Slipper
4. Rob Simmons
5. James Horwill (C) (100th Queensland cap)
6. Eddie Quirk
7. Beau Robinson
8. Jake Schatz
9. Will Genia (VC)
10. Quade Cooper
11. Jamie-Jerry Taulagi
12. Mike Harris
13. Ben Tapuai (50th Queensland cap)
14. Chris Feauai-Sautia
15. Ben Lucas
16. James Hanson?
17. Greg Holmes?
18. Jono Owen?
19. Ed O’Donoghue?
20. Curtis Browning
?21. Nick Frisby
?22. Anthony Fainga’a?
23. Rod Davies
Follow Commentary Box Sports on Social Media!