Inspirational leader James Horwill was again the backbone behind the St.George Queensland Reds unprecedented success at Super Rugby level in 2012, guiding the side to their second straight Australian Conference title.James excelled in the chief leadership role both on and off the field during a season where he captained Queensland in their opening 13 games of the season before being cruelly struck down with a Super Rugby season-ending hamstring injury just one game prior to Australia’s June Test window.The injury robbed James of the opportunity to lead his country during midseason Tests against Wales and throughout the Rugby Championship in 2012 after he enjoyed tremendous success in the role during 2011, when he was appointed as Australia’s 77th Wallabies captain and leader for the World Cup.Despite the early end to his season, James still managed to add to his growing list of silverware after captaining the first Queensland team to ever win the Rod Macqueen Cup after the Reds beat the Brumbies in round seven and 14.James enters 2013 just 19 games shy of the prestigious 100-game milestone for Queensland and a healthy run to the Super Rugby final would see him capture the feat just eight seasons into a remarkable career.The achievements of James during 2011 were nothing short of remarkable. In a stellar nine-month period “Big Kev” led the Reds to their first Super Rugby title in the professional era and he captained the Wallabies.In his first Test as skipper - aptly played at Suncorp Stadium in front of a parochial home crowd - James held the Tri Nations trophy aloft, ending a drought which had stretched a decade while the 25-20 win over the All Blacks also signalled watershed times ahead for Australia at the impending World Cup in New Zealand. The returning confidence and form of Australia’s number one second-rower was first evident during his early performances for the Reds in 2011, where he appeared to leave the disappointment of previous seasons cruelly littered with injuries behind him.James featured prominently in all but two matches during the Reds 2011 campaign, surpassing 50 Queensland and Super Rugby caps during the season that culminated in a historic 18-13 triumph over seven-time champions the Crusaders in the final.While the best moment of the rampaging lock’s Super Rugby career came against the Crusaders, so did the worst – when in 2010 he sustained a serious knee injury in just the second game of the year, requiring a major knee operation and a long rehabilitation.This was the second time that injury had disrupted Horwill’s aspirations since 2008, with the big lock earlier being forced out of the Wallabies’ 2008 Spring Tour with a foot ligament injury. That lisfranc injury delayed James’ 2009 Super 14 campaign but he returned for the second half and went on to win selection in the 2009 Wallabies squad. He was one of just four players to feature in all 14 Test matches that were played by Australia that year – but the only player to start in every one.Before 2009, the gifted Brisbane-born talent had played in every Queensland match possible since his debut in 2006 – stringing together 39 games in succession.The towering lock first caught everyone’s attention in 2006, impressing coaches and fans with his attitude, enthusiasm and brute strength. He started his inaugural season for the Reds on the bench but soon forced his way into the starting line-up, playing every match of the season in his debut year.His impressive entrance to Super Rugby won James his second tour with the Australian U21 squad later that year, before later being called up for the Wallabies and their Spring Tour to Europe, where he started in all three mid-week games.Another strong season in 2007, in which he started every match for the Reds, led to his inclusion in the Wallabies squad and his Test debut against Fiji in Perth. James’ first Test try came against Ireland in 2008, the year in which he was made captain of the Reds.James has also represented Queensland at Schoolboy, U19 and ‘A’ level.DID YOU KNOW?James is the players’ representative on the Queensland Rugby Union Board and continues to be a crucial link between the business of Rugby and the team. ***Updated 14/05/2013***
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