James Horwill will have to be back to his best the Reds are to arrest their slump, against the Rebels in Brisbane on Saturday, writes BRENTON CHELIN.
It hasn't been a great year for Queensland's local hero. Stripped of the captaincy before the Wallabies Test against England last year, he has seen his beloved Reds struggle for any semblance of form this season.
One of the telling factors in their decline has been Horwill's form, or lack thereof. A colossus in the Reds' and Wallabies' title-winning campaigns of 2011, he has been a shadow of his former self this year. The captain's loss of confidence has seeped into every aspect of the team's performance, which hit a new low against the Crusaders last weekend.
They have yet to lose to the Rebels in Super Rugby but, then again, it's been a long time since they've been this poor. In the corresponding fixture last season, Quade Cooper inspired a second-half fightback as they overcame the Rebels 33-20 in Brisbane.
The Reds have named an unchanged team for this one, with Beau Robinson in line to play his 50th Super Rugby match.
The Rebels, meanwhile, have made just two changes to the side that went down to the Hurricanes last weekend. Toby Smith returns to the front row in place of Cruze Ah-Nau, who drops to the bench, while Male Sau's place on the right wing is taken by Tom Kingston.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Reds 6, Rebels 0
In Brisbane: Reds 3, Rebels 0
HORWILL'S STATS THAT MATTER
4 – The number of lineouts he has stolen (Rank 11)
11 – The number of penalties he has conceded (Rank 20)
20 – The number of lineoutshe has won on the Reds throw (Rank 29)
Source: Vodacom Stats App
Reds – 15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Curtis Browning, 5 James Horwill, (c) 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 James Hanson, 1 Ben Daley.
Subs: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Jono Owen, 19 Ed O'Donoghue, 20 Dave McDuling, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Ben Lucas, 23 Rod Davies.
Rebels – 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Colby Fainga'a, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Steve Fualau, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emilie, 19 Hugh Pyle, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Jack Debreczeni, 23 Telusa Veainu.
Photo: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images