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James Horwill counting down to comeback
March 22, 2013
Reds skipper James Horwill is helped from the field with injury, Brumbies v Reds, Super Rugby, Canberra Stadium, Canberra, Australia, May 26, 2012
James Horwill has not played since he limped off the pitch against the Brumbies on May 26, 2012 © Getty Images
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James Horwill has been thinking for 308 days about one thing: getting back on the rugby pitch. But the Queensland Reds captain hopes his return is the last thing on his mind having been given the green light for the Reds' match against the Bulls after enduring a stop-start 10-month rehabilitation.

Overcoming a hamstring tear suffered against the Brumbies last May was tough enough. And having his mooted 2013 round-one comeback derailed by an ankle injury was positively cruel. But Horwill reckons the biggest challenge is yet to come. "There's been excitement, anxiousness," he said of his comeback match. "This is probably the hardest part: sitting around waiting and managing the emotion. I will probably sit around and try and focus on other things other than rugby."

And no wonder: the Reds and Wallabies captain has spent enough time dwelling on his prolonged sideline stint. "I thought about how much I have missed out on I counted 308 days between football games," Horwill said. "That's a fair amount of time not playing when you are a professional footballer. I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things - this is the final hurdle."

Horwill's inclusion is one of five changes for the Reds, while South African conference leaders the Bulls have made a staggering nine since their heavy loss to the Crusaders, albeit five due to injury. Springboks five-eighth Morne Steyn will start on the Bulls bench for the first time in four years. But the three-time Super Rugby champions will still provide a bruising welcome back for Horwill; and he wouldn't have it any other way.

"Physically, it is hard to find a tougher team," Horwill said of his prospective 40-minute comeback cameo on Saturday night. "They have made a number of changes but they have swapped like for like; they are not lacking for size."

© AAP
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