Former skipper James Horwill’s hopes of a return for the Wallabies have been rekindled following a meeting with coach Michael Cheika in London, with the second-rower admitting he’d love to make an international comeback.
Cheika has been in Europe catching up with players he wants to keep in the frame for national selection – whether they qualify via the 60-Test criteria, or could be lured back to Australia to play Super Rugby.
At 30 and in his first season with English side Harlequins, Horwill is unlikely to consider a return home – but he admits adding to his 61 Test caps is “a realistic possibility” and one he still desires.
Horwill, who captained Australia 16 times between 2011 and 2013, could be forgiven for harbouring a grudge against Cheika after being omitted from Australia’s 31-man World Cup squad last year – but he’s moved on from the snubbing.
“I was at peace that (playing for the Wallabies) was something I wouldn’t be doing again,” Horwill told AAP.
“I’d hoped to play in (last year’s) World Cup and finish there but that didn’t play out either.
“But I’ll always want to play for my country, there’s no doubting that. We’ll just see where it gets to.
“It’s not for me to make that decision but you’ll never rule it out.
“I’d love to play for the Wallabies again and I guess the fact that I have played 60 Tests makes it a realistic possibility.”
Meanwhile, Horwill said the mid-year arrival of the Eddie Jones-led England would be a great challenge for the Wallabies.
Under Jones, England have orchestrated a major revival since their World Cup failure and last week completed a stunning grand slam – their first since 2003 – following a Six Nations cleansweep.
Horwill, who played under Jones during a dismal Queensland Reds season in 2007, praised the feisty coach for turning around England’s fortunes.
“The big thing for the guys is Eddie’s probably given them that confidence back again and that’s something that is certainly very important in rugby,” said Horwill, who saw the results first hand when club teammates returned to training this week.
Horwill said Jones was a meticulous coach who asked plenty from his players but gave a lot back and England have responded to their new mentor.
“You need to have the confidence to go out and play your game and believe in what you’re doing. They have that confidence now,” he said.