James Horwill
James Horwill

Horwill finally back in action for Reds V Bulls clash

TEN months of frustration will be released when Queensland Reds and Wallabies captain James Horwill makes his first tackle in the Super Rugby clash against the Bulls at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night.

The big lock has not played since tearing his hamstring against the Brumbies in Canberra last May.

He replaces Rob Simmons in the second row in one of five changes Reds director of coaching Ewen McKenzie has made to the starting XV that lost 19-12 to Western Force at the same venue last Saturday.

Wellington-born Jarrad Butler will make his starting debut at openside flanker, with Liam Gill sidelined for a week with a minor knee injury.

In other changes, Saia Faingaa, who has been battling a neck injury this week, drops to the bench and is replaced by James Hanson at hooker, Anthony Faingaa returns from his back injury to take the place of Mike Harris at outside centre, while Test winger Digby Ioane is back in favour following from his one-game bad behaviour suspension imposed by the Reds.

Uncapped back rowers Curtis Browning and Nigel Ah Wong were named on the reserves bench.

McKenzie said it was great to have Horwill back wearing red.

"Getting James back on the field has been a long time coming and everyone is extremely excited to see him back after what has been a frustrating 10 months without rugby," McKenzie said.

"In a perfect world he would have returned sooner if not for an ankle injury he suffered in an unlucky incident at training, but he has handled every challenge thrown at him with class and is now ready to go."

As for the loss of Gill, McKenzie said he was not prepared to take a chance on him.

The Bulls have also made plenty of changes, with only six players who started in the big loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch last week doing so again tomorrow.