James Horwill has been ruled out of this weeks Rugby Championship match against the Springboks after suffering a hamstring strain at training. The injury is believed to be at the “lower-end in terms of severity” however, Mckenzie has decided not to risk him for this weekend and possibly next weekend against the Puma’s in Perth as well.
After a hamstring tear in 2012 put Horwill out for most of the season it is understandable as to why the Wallabies coaching and medical staff are keen to not take any risks. Kane Douglas will take his spot in the starting line-up which sees Ben McCalman come onto the bench.
The captain’s loss will be immense as Horwill almost always makes an impact when he is on the field. This is demonstrated by his stats in Bledisloe I in which he made 12 runs (the most for both teams) and had the 3rd highest tackle count with 7. In Bledisloe II he made 9 runs (second most in the team) and had the third highest tackle count with 9.
Along with his natural leadership, Howill’s presence in the lineout will also be sorely missed. The Australians will have a daunting task in competing against South African giants Eben Etzebeth (2.03m) and Flip van der Merwe (1.99m).
In Horwill’s absence McKenzie has appointed Will Genia as captain.
“Will is a proven leader and has had plenty of success as captain for the Queensland Reds and also for Australia,” McKenzie said.
Ben Mowen will assume the role of vice-captain. It is a significant rise for Mowen in his debut Wallaby season with just 5 caps; however, his efforts in taking the Brumbies to the grand final as captain this season coupled with his similar leadership style to James Horwill has warranted a promotion as one of the leaders within the team.