Former Saints star Horne hailed for work with Australia sevens team

Former Saints star Rob Horne with George Gregan at the Invictus Games in Sydney
Former Saints star Rob Horne with George Gregan at the Invictus Games in Sydney

Former Saints centre Rob Horne has been hailed for 'setting a fantastic example' during a successful stint with Australia's sevens side.

And coach Tim Walsh is now hoping to convince the former Wallaby to be involved with the team on a more regular basis after an impressive managerial debut.

Horne suffered full paralysis of his right arm during the opening 13 seconds of Saints' derby-day win at Leicester Tigers in April last year.

He was forced to retire from rugby at the age of just 28, but still ended the season as Saints' top try scorer, scooping the players' and supporters' player of the year prizes at the end of his one and only campaign in Northampton.

He was a hugely popular figure at Franklin's Gardens and he is now showing his leadership qualities again back in his homeland.

Horne was with the Australia sevens side in New Zealand in January, and is this week in Las Vegas for round five of the World Series.

The 34-cap Wallabies back was at the centre of a special jersey presentation on top of Hoover Dam on Tuesday.

Horne gave a stirring speech about seizing opportunity, and coach Walsh has been delighted with the work he is doing.

"Initially my plan was to get Classic Wallabies and Classic Sevens players, each with their own perspective," Walsh explained. "Guys who had been there and done that, who could add different things.

“But then when ‘Hornet' came away, he really balanced the staff for us. Hoilesy (assistant coach Stephen Holies), myself and Hornet, we almost had different skills. We combined well.

"He is a very wise man, beyond his years, and is straight up honest. He’s pretty black and white, and the boys were attracted to his style straight away.

"He’s going really well. He has been a massive asset, and we are trying to convince him to come on a lot more.”

Horne was often hailed for his ability to lead at Saints, and he was given the captaincy for the first time on that fateful day at Welford Road last April.

He has continued to pass on his wisdom now he is back in Australia.

And Walsh said: "He doesn’t overplay it. He hasn’t been watching and playing sevens for the last 10 years, like I have.

"But he is able to offer things, and that’s what I wanted these guys to bring. Things like preparation, the ability to deal with pressure, and some rugby things too.

"What’s a thing great, and I know as a player from what people told me, he was meticulous in his preparation and as a manager he is always ahead of the schedule. He is wanting detail. He is amazing from a manager point of view.

"He is super competitive, as we all are. He just doesn’t tolerate us not performing to our potential. They’re the standards we try to drive in this team.”

Horne’s example of getting on with life is something that Walsh sees as valuable to the team.

He added: "Rob has gone through different emotional rollercoasters to get to where he is, but he can have a joke and a laugh and talk about things.

"It’s the nature of Rob. Some people might have drifted away (after a serious injury).

“But he has so much to offer and he is generous and hard-working. It is almost a no-brainer to have him involved in Australian rugby, and sevens is the beneficiary of it at the moment. Long may it continue.

"We would love to get some better results for ourselves to rejoice in but we’ll keep working.

"When you look to what the team needed, and still needs, he has it. We are chasing resilience, consistency and being that ruthless player. The way Rob played really.

"And to be adaptive to any situation, which more so than anyone, Rob is dealing with.

"And setting a fantastic example.”