Twickenham excites Mowen
London - Ben Mowen is looking forward to relishing a long-cherished ambition when he leads Australia out against England in their Cook Cup clash at Twickenham on Saturday.
Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie sprung a surprise when he stripped James Horwill, still in the side, of the Australia captaincy and gave the honour to Brumbies skipper Mowen for the opening match of a Grand Slam tour.
It capped a remarkable few months for the 28-year-old back-row forward who only played the first of his 10 Tests, against the British and Irish Lions, in June and who prior to this week had never even set foot in England.
But, like many an 'overnight' success, Mowen said his rise hadn't been rapid.
"It's been quick but probably not quick in terms of my rugby career," Mowen told reporters at Australia's hotel in London on Friday.
"I've been around the traps for a long while, plying my trade, so year on year for me I've become a more experienced player and certainly a lot better in terms of performance...I guess that's led me to this point.
"I hadn't been to the UK until a week ago so it's all pretty fresh for me.
"All they (the other squad members) have spoken about over the last month is how great this game is going to be.
"It's obviously a very special place, Twickenham and an Australia-England clash is a real stand-alone game.
"They are obviously very important to both sides.
"It usually brings the best out of Australian players so we can't wait.
"This England-Australia game has been a target of mine for many, many years now, so to be here and be a part of such a special day will be very exciting."
Mowen, who found himself on the sidelines at the Waratahs after the Waratahs signed Rocky Elsom before joining the Brumbies where former Springbok boss Jake White made him captain, said he sympathised with Horwill's position but stressed the lock had responded admirably to his demotion.
"To be honest, I've just left him alone.
"I've been in that situation before when you've been in and out of sides and you do want a little bit of time to yourself first," Mowen said.
"If he was a guy who was dragging his feet and kicking stones, you'd probably go over and say 'mate are you alright?' but, it's a huge testament to his character, he just got on with it and he's been outstanding on the training paddock this week."
Meanwhile Mowen hailed the impact of former Reds boss McKenzie, who replaced New Zealander Robbie Deans as Australia coach following the Wallabies' 2-1 series loss to the Lions in July.
"I have noticed quite a considerable shift.
"I'd say this is the most focused I've seen the side, this last couple of months, from my short time being involved.
"It's a very happy group off the field, which always helps the direction of the side, when you've got guys enjoying each other's company and we are working really hard on the field."
Australia may only have won three of their 10 Tests so far this year but Mowen said his experience at the Brumbies, whom he led to this season's Super Rugby final, where they went down 27-22 to the Chiefs, had taught him the value of gelling as a unit.
"I know from my time at the Brumbies, we had that same mix early on and not many people believed we could get results but we were well on the way to achieving those this year.
"I know that's pretty powerful when you get that."
England and Australia are in the same pool for the 2015 World Cup in England and Red Rose coach Stuart Lancaster has said Saturday's match marks the start of a "defining year" for his team.
But Mowen insisted all that mattered to Australia was the result.
"It's always only about winning.
"I'm not sure what he (Lancaster) means, but from our point of view it's this game and nothing else at this stage."