James Horwill could have kept his feet up and counted his cash, but the Test discard was hungry to resurrect his international rugby career.
That’s what Wallabies coach Michael Cheika believes after recalling Australia’s former captain for next month’s bumper home series with England.
After dumping Horwill from last year’s World Cup, Cheika has liked Horwill’s response while excelling for under-performing Harlequins in the English premiership.
“Harlequins are having a difficult season and he’s been a regular campaigner,” the coach said.
“It’s got pretty fiery over there on a few occasions and I’ve seen him right in the middle of it, which I like.
“And he’s experienced in playing against the players that we’re going to be playing against as well. He’s coming up against them every weekend and he’s playing with them on a day-to-day basis as well.
“I think he can do a job for us in this series.”
Cheika admitted the veteran lock’s recall was as much a gut selection too after touching base with Horwill recently.
“He’s hungry to play again,” he said.
“He could easily say: `I’m over here, I’m getting paid nicely, I’m getting some nice cash, I’ll take my holidays’.
“I think when I rang him he was in the Greek Islands, he could have easily kept his feet up over there with his wife and relaxed.
“I’m sure she’s not happy about coming home but if you’re prepared to make those choices then I’ve got a feeling you’ve got something to contribute when the whistle blows.
“I know he’ll play better football for Australia than he ever has before because he is making different sacrifices than the ones he was before.”
Horwill, who turns 31 on Sunday, is also the type of leader he wants in his squad against Eddie Jones’ Six Nations champions.
“When I asked him to do a certain job last year in the Rugby Championship, he did that and he did it willingly,” Cheika said.
“He understood then afterwards when he didn’t get chosen (for the World Cup). He took it like a man.
“He didn’t moan or whinge or cry.”