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Exclusive: Ex-Wallaby captain Horwill responds to 'player power' allegations at Harlequins

By Chris Jones
James Horwill

Former Wallaby captain James Horwill has hit back at claims player power played a major role in John Kingston’s axing and insists the Harlequins director of rugby did not “lose the dressing room.”

Horwill believes he shares, along with the rest of the playing squad, responsibility for the club’s dreadful run this season that sees them head into tomorrow’s difficult Premiership trip to Gloucester in ninth place, having failed to qualify for next season’s European Rugby Champions Cup.

Kingston will complete a 17-year association with Quins at the end of this season and the club, as RugbyPass revealed earlier this week, has set up a panel to identify the man they want to take over. Expected to be included on the shortlist will be Leinster’s Stuart Lancaster, Glasgow’s David Rennie and Scott Robertson, of the Crusaders.

For Horwill, it is now about regaining lost pride and he is fit to face Gloucester a week after a neck injury forced him to watch from the stand as his team collapsed 35-5 to bottom club London Irish, a loss that drew boos from the crowd and triggered Kingston’s departure. Rumours circulated that Quins players were unhappy with Kingston’s regime, prompting speculation about the role leading stars had played in his decision to go.

Horwill has decided to put the record straight and said: “JK had not lost the dressing room. He is a top bloke who cares deeply about the club and anyone who has spent 17 years at the place has a deep passion for Quins and it is unfortunate what has happened. We need to make sure that we work to fix the issues. We need to be better as a playing group and we need to take ownership of that and JK has not lost the dressing room. I am really sorry it has ended the way it has for him.

“As players we need to put our hands up and take responsibility and we had a team meeting to discuss everything as a squad. We have a month of the season left with three Premiership games and the A league side with a semi-final. We haven’t performed and we have an opportunity in this Gloucester game to put in a performance we can be proud of and finish the season on the right note.

“It was incredibly frustrating to watch the Irish match, not being able to help out. It was tough to sit there, but now we have three games left to right some wrongs. There have been times when we played well in games but have not built momentum. Our biggest downfall is not being able to get on a decent run where we have put in back-to-back performances and I am not sure if all the injuries comes into it, but a lack of cohesion in certain positions could be a factor.

“We have lost a number of key guys to injury for long periods this season and with the English season being much longer compared to the Southern Hemisphere you have the ability to get them back in time to still play a part. It all adds to the frustration because we haven’t been able to pick a number of guys in certain positions and sometimes that overloads other players who were initially not due to play so much rugby. However, that is not an excuse for some of our performances.”

Watch episode 1 of the Rugby Explorer with Jim Hamilton


Ex-Scotland international, Jim Hamilton, travels to Singapore to explore the city and find out more about the rugby scene in the Southeast Asian country. He meets up with the national team captain and several local players.

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