The Queensland Reds have summoned exiled veteran James Horwill for their clash against the Cheetahs in South Africa.
Former Wallabies skipper Horwill was initially excluded from Queensland’s 27-man squad for their two-week tour to the Republic after copping a one-game ban when sent off for the second time this season.
It led to speculation he was out of favour with coach Richard Graham following his costly dismissal in the loss to Melbourne Rebels.
Suspended for the Reds’ 43-22 loss to the Bulls in Pretoria on Sunday morning (AEST) – which left them bottom of the overall Super Rugby standings – Horwill was on Sunday called to fly to South Africa as soon as possible to replace injured lock Dave McDuling for the Cheetahs clash in Bloemfontein.
Graham clarified his initial decision to leave Horwill behind was not intended as punishment, saying the team’s capacity to train and prepare in South Africa would have been limited by bringing an ineligible player.
“Of course I was disappointed with him,” Graham said on Sunday.
“I spoke to him but I didn’t have to speak at length or anything. He knew what he’d done.
“There is no bloke more disappointed or more gutted than himself.
“He’s played enough rugby to know he put the team under pressure.
“He’s bled for the joint, he cares passionately about the joint.”
The Reds could also regain the services of James O’Connor, who missed the Bulls defeat due to a calf strain.
Graham described O’Connor as a ’70-30′ chance of facing the Cheetahs.
“The expectation is he will be right,” he said.
Graham said he was proud of Queensland’s nagging second-half performance against the Bulls, but admitted poor execution early on proved their undoing.
“The stuff we did in that period (after half-time) was excellent,”
“(But) you’re always judged, let’s not kid ourselves, on results.
“We talked about execution, making sure in those big moments that we win those and when we need our execution to be where we expect it, it’s got to be at that level.”