18 Aug 2011

Horwill takes over Wallabies captaincy for World Cup

12:38 pm on 18 August 2011

Lock James Horwill has replaced Rocky Elsom as Wallabies' captain in a shock move before next month's Rugby World Cup.

Queensland Reds skipper Horwill was surprised when coach Robbie Deans named him to lead the 30-man Wallabies squad to the tournament, kicking off on September 9th in New Zealand.

Elsom has captained Australia since 2009 but appears to have lost the job with his position in the starting team under pressure from Scott Higginbotham.

Deans says Elsom took the news admirably, saying he accepted it in the "best interests of the team".

As expected, 92-Test back Matt Giteau is a notable omission, with Deans instead selecting New South Wales playmaker Berrick Barnes as the five-eighth back-up to Quade Cooper and Melbourne halfback Nick Phipps as a third specialist halfback.

Number 8 Wycliff Palu heads a list of six wounded Wallabies stars who have been named despite being grounded by injuries, with Palu out for most of the past two seasons.

Deans also selected hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, prop James Slipper and Drew Mitchell who are also yet to return to action after injury.

Waratah backs Barnes and centre Rob Horne were included after recently making comebacks in club rugby after playing little Super Rugby this season.

Western Force flanker Matt Hodgson, who has been the back up for ball scavenger David Pocock, is arguably one of the most unexpected omissions after being among the Test squad for the past three years.

Australian squad:-

Backs - Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor, Drew Mitchell, Digby Ioane, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Horne, Pat McCabe, Anthony Faingaa, Berrick Barnes, Quade Cooper, Nick Phipps, Luke Burgess, Will Genia.

Forwards - Ben McCalman, Radike Samo, Wycliff Palu, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom, Scott Higginbotham, James Horwill (capt), Rob Simmons, Nathan Sharpe, Dan Vickerman, Ben Alexander, Sekope Kepu, James Slipper, Salesi Ma'afu, Stephen Moore, Saia Faingaa, Tatafu Polota-Nau.