Keen to make up for lost time from his career’s most frustrating injury, Queensland captain James Horwill wants to play in the Reds’ clash with the British and Irish Lions and does not believe a “blanket ban” should be thrown on Wallabies players for the tour match.
Horwill’s first priority is ditching “Team Rehab” and running out for the Reds in their final pre-season trial against the Chiefs on the Sunshine Coast on Friday.
It will end a frustrating eight-month battle with a hamstring tear suffered against the ACT Brumbies last May.
However, Horwill admitted he also had the visiting Lions in his sights despite the Reds being tipped to rest their Wallabies stars in the June 8 tour match.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has indicated he would prefer a long camp build-up to the Lions series, ensuring representative stars would be withdrawn from Australian Super Rugby franchises ahead of the series opener on June 22 at Suncorp Stadium.
But Horwill hoped Wallabies players’ availability was assessed on an individual basis ahead of Lions tour clashes.
The Lions play five matches in Australia leading into the Test series, including two with their full-strength side – against the Reds and NSW Waratahs (June 15).
“You would love to play against the Lions but that’s something you have to weight up on an individual basis, how they are feeling and how much football they have played,” Horwill said on Tuesday.
“I don’t think you can have a blanket rule, that would make it tough for players.
“There’s obviously guys who may not have played a lot of footy and would love the chance.
“Me, personally I would love the opportunity to play for Queensland against the Lions.
“But that’s a bridge you’ve got to cross when you come to it. There’s a lot of rugby before then.”
In the meantime, Horwill is simply relieved to be back in Reds colours as he counts down to their Super Rugby season opener against the Brumbies on February 16 in Canberra.
“Unfortunately I have been through a number of long term injuries and this has definitely been the most frustrating due to the uncertainty about the injury,” he said.
“It has been a guessing game because initially no one knew how exactly how to handle it.
“You just have to keep pushing through and I am glad to be out on the other end.
“But it feels good. I am ready to go.”
Horwill will be welcomed back into the Reds line-up on Friday night along with fellow new faces Saia Faingaa, Jake Schatz, Dom Shipperly and Chris F’Sautia while lock Rob Simmons is back after serving a five game ban.
The only unexpected omission was Wallaby Radike Samo (knee).
Scans will assess this week whether he is in doubt for the season opener.
Meanwhile, Jono Lance will slot into five-eighth for Quade Cooper who makes his boxing debut in Brisbane on the same night.