Horwill stripped of Wallabies captaincy
October 31, 2013
James Horwill has lost the Wallabies captaincy © Getty Images
In one of the biggest selection shocks of recent times, McKenzie made the decision as a result of Horwill's recent poor form. With Mowen skippering the side, Quade Cooper has been named vice-captain.
With Rob Simmons out injured, there was every chance Horwill may have missed out on a place in the starting XV but he retains his spot in the locks with Sitaleki Timani drafted in to partner him.
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"I just want James to concentrate on his football," McKenzie said. "I know what he's capable of and the team needs him at his best.
"He's had a couple of setbacks (this year)... he hasn't had a smooth run. So at this stage I want him to be the hard-working abrasive second-rower I know he can be. We need his A game."
Despite being in the role for just seven games, McKenzie has already showed he is not afraid of making controversial calls as Wallabies coach. He dropped star No.9 Will Genia during the Rugby Championships and has also dispatched James O'Connor for his off-field behaviour.
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"You get one chance at these things, and you're given what you've got, and I've been asked to make it better," McKenzie added. "My career in rugby has been about fixing things.
"I worked out in my very first year of head coaching that if you don't make hard decisions you won't get very far, and certainly nothing will change. If something comes along and I take the soft option, what am I going to expect from the playing group? You've got to lead by example."
Despite the likes of Adam Ashley-Cooper and Stephen Moore taking on the vice captaincy in the past, McKenzie has opted for Cooper, someone who fell out with previous coach Robbie Deans. McKenzie knows the controversial fly-half well from his days in charge of the Reds and he is confident his No.10 will flourish in the role.
"Everyone has acknowledged Quade has made massive strides in the last 12 months and this is another step toward recognition he does make a lot of decisions on the field," McKenzie added. "I think Quade has demonstrated the totality of being a team member, and that's been a significant change."
In other selection news Matt Toomua has been retained at inside centre ahead of Brumbies teammate Christian Leali'ifano while Nick Cummins (broken hand) and Scott Fardy (eye) return from injuries.
Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Nick Cummins, Quade Cooper, Will Genia; James Slipper, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Sitaleki Timani, James Horwill, Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper, Ben Mowen (capt)
Res: Saia Fainga'a, Benn Robinson, Sekope Kepu, Kane Douglas, Ben McCAlman, Nic White, Christian Leali'ifano, Bernard Foley.
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