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Emotional return for James Horwill
March 23, 2013
James Horwill speaks to the media, Super Rugby naming rights announcement, Sydney, Australia, November 16, 2011
James Horwill has not played since he limped off the pitch against the Brumbies in 2012 © Getty Images
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Queensland Reds skipper James Horwill admits he will find it hard to keep his emotions in check as he prepares to make his long-awaited return to rugby on Saturday night.

Horwill hasn't played a match in almost 11 months as he battled a serious hamstring tear and then an ankle injury. But after finally getting his fitness right, the giant lock will make his comeback in the Reds' Super Rugby clash against South African side the Bulls at Suncorp Stadium.

Speaking on the eve of his first game in almost a year, Horwill admits it's been hard to focus on the job at hand.

"There's been excitement, anxiousness ... this is probably the hardest part, sitting around waiting and managing the emotion," Horwill said. "I will probably sit around and try and focus on other things other than rugby."

"I thought about how much I have missed out on. I counted 308 days between football games," Horwill added. "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 makes his return at the perfect time for the Reds, who were shock last-start losers at home to Western Force. They have started the season with three wins from five matches and will be keen to get back to winning ways to keep the heat on Australian conference leaders the Brumbies. But it won't be easy against the South African giants, who are again one of the teams to beat for the title after a strong start to their campaign.

"Physically it is hard to find a tougher team," Horwill said of the Bulls. "They have made a number of changes but they have swapped like for like - they are not lacking for size."

Horwill is one of five changes to the Reds side that went down 19-12 to the Force last weekend. Wallabies winger Digby Ioane also returns following his club-imposed ban for an incident at a Melbourne pub recently.

The Reds have a strong record against the Bulls, particularly on home soil, winning eight of nine matches between the two sides in Queensland.

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