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Wallabies lose skipper Horwill ahead of South Africa test

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The Canadian Press
9/4/2013 7:45:15 PM
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BRISBANE, Australia -- Skipper James Horwill has been ruled out of Saturday's test against South Africa with a hamstring injury in a major setback for Australia's chances of ending a three-match losing streak.

The Australian Rugby Union on Thursday said Horwill strained his left hamstring in a training run on Tuesday. Kane Douglas will replace him in the second row, Ben McCalman was added to the bench as cover, and scrumhalf Will Genia will take over the captaincy.

Australia lost its first two matches to world champion New Zealand in the Rugby Championship and has just one win in five tests, including the 2-1 series loss to the British and Irish Lions. The South Africans opened with home-and-away wins over Argentina.

The Wallabies have never lost to South Africa at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, venue for Saturday's match, but the absence of Horwill leaves a big hole in the forward pack in terms of experience and physical presence.

"It's extremely disappointing to lose James but after discussions with medical staff we felt it was important not to risk further injury when he isn't ready," Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said. "Scans revealed his injury was on the lower-end in terms of severity and we expect him to be back to full fitness when we embark on our two-game tour of South Africa and Argentina in a few weeks."

Horwill missed most of last season after surgery to repair a ruptured right hamstring, an injury sustained in a Super Rugby match for Queensland. It sparked a terrible run for players who captained the Wallabies, with both David Pocock and Genia later sustaining season-ending injuries and 2012 ending with veteran lock Nathan Sharpe leading the team.

Genia has filled in as Australia captain three times, including a 26-19 win over South Africa in Perth last year, and has established himself as the regular backline general.

"Will is a proven leader and has had plenty of success as captain for the Queensland Reds and also for Australia," Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said. "He is a player that thrives with the added responsibility and he has always stepped up when given the opportunity to lead. I'm sure this will bring the best out of him."

With second row stocks low due to injuries to Hugh McMeniman and Peter Kimlin, Sitaleki Timani is expected to be added to Australia's training squad for the following test against Argentina.

Revised Wallabies squad to play South Africa: Israel Folau, Nick Cummins, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Christian Lealiifano, James O'Connor, Quade Cooper, Will Genia (captain); Ben Mowen, Michael Hooper, Scott Fardy, Kane Douglas, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore, James Slipper. Reserves: Saia Fainga'a, Scott Sio, Ben Alexander, Ben McCalman, Jake Schatz, Nic White, Matt Toomua, Jesse Mogg.

James Horwill (Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
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