Horne fit and ready for All Blacks
Wallabies centre Rob Horne faces a monster assignment containing Sonny Bill Williams and Ma’a Nonu in the Bledisloe Cup opener, but will relish the welcomed change of focusing on the All Blacks heavyweights rather than his own body.
Saturday night will be Horne’s 13th Test but, after a trying few years plagued by injuries, the Waratahs hard man feels like he’s born again.
If it’s to be like a second debut, then it’s sure to be a baptism of fire against the most intimidating midfield in world rugby.
Williams isn’t a confirmed starter, although it’s expected the New Zealand Rugby Union will rubber stamp the insurance bill needed to get him on the park.
Horne for one wants Sonny Bill to take his place before he heads to club rugby in Japan, then the NRL.
Although more likely to go head-to-head with Nonu, now that Pat McCabe is out injured, Horne will play a vital role in running Australia’s midfield defence.
And with his mind clear of fitness worries, the no-nonsense No.13 is seeking a physical battle with the best.
“(Williams) is a gifted athlete and he’s in some great form. He provides a lot for them, a lot of go forward and they strive off the back of that. It will be a challenge no doubt,” said Horne.
“I think you can’t not (love the physicality) when you’re playing in the centres. You have to embrace that side of things.
“Outside of the World Cup it’s the biggest game you can play.”
Horne’s direct running and tough persona makes him a favourite of coach Robbie Deans and certainly, with McCabe gone, he’ll be charged with the responsibility of setting the foundation out wide.
After playing all three June Tests against Wales, he might seem like he’s established himself as Australia’s outside centre, but Horne doesn’t see it that way.
Countless injury setbacks since his NSW debut in 2008 have taught him not to take anything for granted.
The Southern Districts junior is due to celebrate his 23rd birthday three days before Saturday’s ANZ Stadium blockbuster and as far as he’s concerned, his career is only just beginning.
“My body feels good. It’s a nice change to be focusing on the opposition instead of just thinking about my body going into a game. That’s been refreshing,” said Horne.
“I’ve had to adapt my preparation so that every day I prepare to train. Not just rock up and train, but do some things to wake up my body and get going.
“I’ve got a long way to go. My only goal this year was to be fit and healthy and be playing every week. That’s a huge confidence boost for me, I just haven’t had that (before).”© AAP 2013