Horwill flourishing under Cheika

Date published: November 3 2014

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Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has breathed new life in to the Test career of Australia’s former captain and lock James Horwill.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has breathed new life in to the Test career of Australia’s former captain and lock James Horwill.

Almost exactly a year after he lost the Wallabies captaincy, Horwill received praise from Cheika for being the the quickest of all forwards to adapt to the team’s new playing style on their end-of-year tour of Europe.

“A few guys stepped up [in the win against the Barbarians] … I thought James Horwill had a really good work rate,” Cheika told Rugby Heaven.

“He probably understood the new system in the forward pack the best and by consequence he was able to get a really high work rate.

“I think there are a few opportunities for guys to push themselves into space.”

With incumbent locks Sam Carter and Rob Simmons set to start for Australia against Wales this weekend, Horwill is battling Will Skelton for a place amongst the replacements.

Waratahs enforcer Skelton is still developing and Cheika wants to give him more game-time during the Sydneysiders’ 2015 Super Rugby campaign.

“I’m more than confident of him playing in games, he can have an impact without a doubt,” said Cheika.

“I’d like [the second-rowers] to all play a bit better to push for competition, there’s no doubt about that. It’s about picking a combination that can do the job for us.”

Back-row Scott Higginbotham will miss this weekend’s clash in Cardiff, but will stay with the Walabies until the severity of his hamstring injury is known.

Newbie Sean McMahon and Western Force captain Matt Hodgson are competing to replace Higginbotham in the run-on side.

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