Reds lock Horwill aims to blunt Sharpe - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Reds lock Horwill aims to blunt Sharpe

01/04/2009 06:29:40 PM Comments (0)

Fit-again Queensland skipper James Horwill aims to make up for lost time by knocking Wallabies lock partner Nathan Sharpe "off his perch" on Friday night.

Horwill plays his second game back from foot surgery when he goes head-to-head with Western Force captain Sharpe in a must-win Super 14 clash for both sides at Subiaco Oval.

Nine straight starting Test appearances in the second-row before injury last year hasn't convinced the abrasive 23-year-old he'll be retained when Australia starts it's international campaign in June.

Although Horwill pushed Sharpe out of the position he shared with Dan Vickerman for the previous four seasons, Horwill still sees the 31-year-old as the top dog among a long list of contenders in the Wallabies' second-row ranks.

"He's been one of the top locks in Australia for a long time and I've got to try and knock him off his perch," he told AAP.

"I've got a bit to prove because I haven't been playing with the rest of the boys and I'm trying to get back into form as quick as possible.

"He's trying to get the better of me and I'm trying to get the better of him and I know he feels the same but at the end of the day what really matters is whose team wins on Friday night."

Sharpe may feel he owes Horwill after the younger man was outstanding in his first match as Reds skipper in last year's grudge match, won 29-12 by Queensland in Brisbane.

It paved the way for the 200cm, 117kg lock to start every domestic and Tri-Nations Test last season while Sharpe was actually left out of the initial tour squad to South Africa in August.

Sharpe showed he was no spent force by making a storming return in the Spring Tour in Horwill's place, partnering Hugh McMeniman and Mark Chisholm.

"You can't keep a good player down and the setback he had from missing the (South African) tour showed he wanted to still be there and he showed it in the best way possible," Horwill said.

"It will be a good battle it always is."

Horwill's retention with veteran Van Humphries in the Reds second-row meant there was no room in the starting pack for in-form flanker Scott Higginbotham.

Coach Phil Mooney stuck with the players thumped 50-26 by the Chiefs by naming an unchanged starting team for the Perth trip.

Mooney made just one change to his bench with former Highlanders forward Ezra Taylor returning from injury to replace Tasi Luafutu.

The Force, who pillaged the Queensland playing ranks in 2005 when Sharpe was skipper, have named nine former Reds or Queensland products in their side but Mooney played down talk of a grudge match.

"I think we've moved on since then," said Mooney, who is looking for Queensland to end an 18-match winless streak on the road dating back to 2006.

Queensland: Mark McLinden, Blair Connor, Digby Ioane, Berrick Barnes, Rod Davies, Quade Cooper, Ben Lucas; Leroy Houston, Daniel Braid, Hugh McMeniman, James Horwill (capt), Van Humphries, Laurie Weeks, Sean Hardman, Ben Daley. Res: Saia Faingaa, Jack Kennedy, Scott Higginbotham, Ezra Taylor, Brendan McKibbin, Anthony Faingaa, Charlie Fetoai.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

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