Horwill hopes to return for Oz

2012-09-17 11:52

Sydney - Australia captain James Horwill is hoping to be fit for the spring tour of Europe after missing the whole of the international season to date with a hamstring injury.

The Reds lock suffered the injury in a freak incident in Super Rugby in May and is one of three Wallabies skippers lost to injury this year in what has become known as the "captain's curse".

Nathan Sharpe, the fourth player to hold the office, came through Saturday's 23-19 comeback victory over Argentina in the Rugby Championship unscathed, but is set to retire after the final home test of the season against New Zealand on Oct. 20.

Horwill admitted that he had yet to start high intensity training or to test his recovery in contact but his return for the matches against England, Italy and Wales in November and December would be a boost to the Wallabies.

"I'd like to get on that tour and play some rugby to finish out the year," Horwill told The Australian.

"I'd love to get back on the field. I've had enough of training and doing rehab.

"I'd like to get back and play rugby, but in saying that I don't want to force it and risk re-injury or injuring something else.

"I want to make sure I'm 100 percent right to go. If everything continues the way it is, I'm hopeful that can happen."

Although Australia have rallied from successive defeats to the All Blacks in the first two rounds of the Rugby Championship with comeback wins over South Africa and the Pumas, they have yet to set the rugby world alight this season.

The loss for the season of two stand-in captains, flanker David Pocock and scrumhalf Will Genia, have added to an injury toll that also includes James O'Connor, one of the most talented backs in the game on his day.

Australian Rugby Union chief John O'Neill, who is resisting pressure to look at replacing coach Robbie Deans, believes the injury toll was a compelling defence for a less than stellar season.

"It's not just the quantity of the injuries, but the quality," he told the paper.

"Name a team anywhere in the world that has lost three captains in one season and the X-factor players that were such a formidable part of our renaissance last year.

"Quade Cooper has just come back from injury, James O'Connor is out injured and Kurtley Beale is struggling for form after being injured.

"We haven't lost foot soldiers. We have lost World XV players and lost them in numbers."

Australia round out the inaugural Rugby Championship with a tough road trip which takes in tests against South Africa in Pretoria on Sept. 29 and Argentina in Rosario a week later.