Horwill good to go
Reds captain James Horwill has urged Australia coach Robbie Deans not to rest him for Sunday's one-off Test match against Samoa at ANZ Stadium.
Deans last month revealed he would consider sitting out several Reds stars in this weekend's season opener if Queensland made it all the way to the Super 15 decider. But Horwill, who missed the entire 2010 international season with a knee injury suffered against the Crusaders last February, is desperate to resume his 24-Test career against Samoa.
"I'd love to play. I'm good to go," Horwill said from the Wallabies' camp on Tuesday morning. "After last year missing out - I haven't played a Test match for nearly 18 months - so I'd relish any opportunity to get back out there. I'm fit and putting my hand up and saying 'I'm good to go'. Obviously selection will determine that - but I want to play."
Horwill, who will resume his second-row partnership with Nathan Sharpe if selected, is one of five Reds players who would be guaranteed a spot in a full-strength Australia starting XV. Will Genia, Quade Cooper, Digby Ioane and injured tighthead prop James Slipper are the other first stringers.
While admitting it has been a hectic 48 hours since Saturday's 18-13 victory over the Crusaders, Horwill says his Reds comrades are all eager to turn out for their country.
"Most of the guys I've spoken to are pretty keen to play," he said. "Obviously Robbie and the coaching staff have a plan of what they're thinking about so we'll have a discussion about that over the next little bit. But all the blokes I've spoken to are keen to play if selected."
The 26-year-old believes the inclusion of 15 Reds players in the 40-man Wallabies squad is a fitting reward for his team-mates. But, while he reckons the Reds' win has given Australian rugby a healthy dose of self-belief, he stressed the importance of looking forward with the World Cup opener less than two months away.
"It's good reward for a number of guys that have had great and very consistent seasons Super Rugby-wise and now it's (time) to put the Super Rugby season behind us," he said.
"While we do have 15 Reds players here we're a squad of 40, so it's about building momentum as this group now.
"Hopefully we can take little things that we've done with the Reds forward, but this group's got an opportunity on Sunday to start the season off on the right foot and then take that momentum into the game against South Africa next weekend and then onwards from there."