SAD news that James 'Big Kev' Horwill will miss the remainder of the domestic season with a hamstring injury. The Reds and the Wallabies will miss the big guy, there is no doubt about that.
He is the epitome of a captain; he has respect of all players and importantly the referees, based on his actions. He leads by example, on and off the field. He's close to the first player picked, and he's also a fine ambassador for the code. Not only does he excel on the field, he's educated, well liked and respected by us punters as well as those who hang around the pointy end of town.
He'll be missed, but there's not much you can do on the field without a fully functioning hamstring!
We wish him the best with recovery from surgery and look ahead with anticipation for his return, possibly towards the end of the year and Australia's tests v France, England and Italy in Europe.
But not all is lost. Australia has a depth of leaders to ensure the segue from Horwill's tenure as captain is, by definition, seamless. David Pocock (who'll take over from Horwill as captain), Will Genia, Nathan Sharpe, and possibly Stephen Moore form a 'leadership group', to use the business jargon popular at present.
Sharpe extends career
Will Nathan Sharpe ever get to retire? Well, he will as long as James Horwill can stay fit! Having announced his retirement from Wallaby rugby earlier on in the year, Sharpe, on hearing of Horwill's injury, agreed to extend his life as a Wallaby for the current in-bound tests.
And with Horwill's hamstring, and a significant lack of 'shovel ready' second row alternatives, Sharpe is to prolong his career for a further two months to encompass the Rugby Championship (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina).
I'm guessing Sharpe is more than happy and honoured to delay his retirement, especially as it involves running around in the Wallaby gold jersey, but I'd say he'll be hoping Horwill's surgery is a success. When it's time to go, it's time to go. And the timing is better to develop Horwill's replacement.
Waiting until the November test tour gives the player(s) an opportunity to be brought in during preparation and assist their development in 'camp' mode.
Both hemispheres have much to play for
This weekend sees the last of the in-bound tests series. And if we 'quarantine' Australia's loss to the Scots, the southern hemisphere teams go into each of their series undefeated.
For the northern hemisphere teams (Wales, Ireland and England) it's the last game of their very long seasons. They'll be keen to get home with a win, and enjoy some non-rugby time. They'd also, I'm guessing, be keen to avoid clean-sweeps.
For the southern hemisphere teams they will be very focused on achieving clean-sweeps, and each player will very keen to make sure they leave positive last impressions with the selectors for the coming Rugby Championships.
And for both hemisphere players, personal and professional pride in performance individually and collectively is another motivational force.
Personally, I'm looking forward to Wallaby v Wales' Saturday afternoon test. Love watching live footy in the afternoon, and it tends to encourage free-flowing, entertaining matches.