Saturday 20 January 2018 / 12:13 PM

James Horwill to make NRC debut Sunday

St.George Queensland Reds and Wallabies lock James Horwill will make his Buildcorp National Rugby Championship debut when he runs out for Brisbane City against Perth Spirit this Sunday.

Horwill’s inclusion is one of five changes head coach Nick Stiles has made to the Brisbane City starting side, which defeated Sydney Stars 45-20 in the competition opener last Thursday.

Stiles welcomed the addition of Horwill to an already strong team, brimming with enthusiasm following its opening-round win.

“To have James Horwill in the City lineup this weekend will be a great boost to the side,” Stiles said.

“He’s already had an impact at training throughout the week. His presence on the field will be a great boost to the club players in the team and will certainly provide extra motivation to perform well.

“I was pleased with the way the team played in our first match last week and we can only improve from that. We’ve had an extra week together now and the guys have come together well, we’re starting to get a sense that Brisbane City are a team, rather than a group of players brought together from numerous other clubs.

“Perth will have a strong team and would be happy with their first match as well. We know their strengths and we expect a fairly physical encounter out west.”

Stiles has made three changes to his side’s starting forward pack, with former Australian Under 20s prop Phil Kite earning his first start for City at tighthead prop in place of Sam Talakai of Sydney University, who moves to the bench.

Horwill comes into the second row in place of interim captain Dave McDuling, who moves to blindside flanker at the expense of Adam Korczyk, who moves to the bench.

Number 8 Jake Schatz has been ruled out of the match due to a hip injury suffered in the Queensland Premier Rugby grand final and is replaced by University of Queensland Premiership-winning captain Tim Buchanan. Buchanan has played more than 100 games for UQ and made his debut for the St.George Queensland Reds late in the 2014 Super Rugby season.

Stiles has also made two changes in the backs, with Sunnybank’s Rex Tapuai brought into the starting lineup at inside centre, shifting Samu Kerevi to outside centre and Easts’ Toby White to the bench.

Injury has forced the other change, with a groin strain to Sunnybank’s Brando Va’aulu ruling him out for a minimum of two weeks, to be replaced by his Premier Rugby teammate Matthew Feaunati.

Stiles has opted for a five-three split on the bench, with Souths’ David Feao, Brothers’ Matt Mafi and Sydney University’s Talakai covering the front row. Easts’ Brad Wilkin and University’s Adam Korczyk will cover the backrow.

Easts’ Jack Mullins retains his spot as replacement scrumhalf, along with James Dalgleish covering flyhalf and White for the outside backs.

Flanker Liam Gill was unavailable for selection due to an upper-body injury received during the Premier Rugby grand final two weeks ago.

Brisbane City play Perth Spirit at McGillivray Oval this Sunday, 31 August, at 3:30pm (AWST).

Brisbane City v Perth Spirit (McGillivray Oval, Perth)

1. Pettowa Paraka – Reds WTS/Easts
2. Andrew Ready – Reds EPS/Easts
3. Phil Kite – Reds WTS/GPS
4. Marco Kotze – GPS
5. James Horwill – Reds/University of Queensland
6. Dave McDuling (C) – Reds/University of Queensland
7. Michael Gunn – Reds WTS/Sunnybank
8. Tim Buchanan – Reds WTS/University of Queensland
9. Nick Frisby – Reds/GPS
10. Jake McIntyre – Reds WTS/Sunnybank
11. Harry Parker – University of Queensland
12. Rex Tapuai – Sunnybank
13. Samu Kerevi – Reds/GPS
14. Chris Kuridrani – Reds EPS/GPS
15. Matthew Feaunati – Sunnybank

16. David Feao – Souths
17. Matt Mafi – Brothers
18. Sam Talakai – Sydney University
19. Brad Wilkin – Easts
20. Adam Korczyk – University of Queensland
21. Jack Mullins – Easts
22. James Dalgleish – University of Queensland
23. Toby White – Easts

 About the NRC:

The NRC is a new domestic Rugby competition, involving nine teams from across Australia. The inaugural season will run August to November and is aimed at giving players another link in their development pathway towards Super Rugby and ultimately Wallabies selection. 

Queensland Rugby is fielding two teams in the competition – Brisbane City and Queensland Country – with Reds players split between the two squads. Players were chosen for either City or Country based on their existing player pathway and high performance discretion, to ensure an even split between the two sides.

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Drew Woodhouse

Our inspirational leader, Commentary Box Sports founder Drew is a born sports fanatic – particularly when it comes to rugby league, union, surfing NBA and NFL. A Brisbane native currently working out of Sydney, Drew’s occasional writing forays reflect that fierce passion.

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