Saints land Australia Test star Rob Horne on three-year deal

Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder
Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder

Saints have signed Australia international Rob Horne on a three-year deal.

Horne can play all across the backline and will team up with Saints ahead of next season.

The 27-year-old has become a mainstay of the Australian national team over the past six years and his signing represents a major coup for Saints, with Horne being the Wallabies’ vice-captain in 2016.

Horne is primarily an outside centre but is equally comfortable in the 11, 12 and 14 shirts, and has considerable big game experience.

He has played for Australia in two Rugby World Cups, and lined up against the British & Irish Lions in 2013.

In all, he has won 33 international caps.

At provincial level, Horne has played all his entire career in Sydney with the Waratahs and is the ninth-most capped player for the state with more than 100 appearances.

Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder is delighted to have captured Horne, and said: “Rob has played at the highest level of the sport for nearly a decade and we’re delighted that he has put pen to paper and agree to come to Franklin’s Gardens.

“He’s going to be a real asset for us, both with his quality of play and his leadership experience in what is a crucial position.”

Horne said: “Northampton is a club with a strong history and I look forward to being a part of that at the club.

“I’m excited for the journey ahead and experiencing Aviva Premiership and European rugby.”

Horne’s move to England means he is giving up the chance to represent his country in the 2019 World Cup.

He has been a favourite of coach Michael Cheika and a regular when available in the Wallabies team, despite an injury-hampered couple of years.

But Horne will miss chance of playing in a third World Cup as he has not played enough Tests to qualify for selection overseas under the so-called ‘Giteau Law’, which mandates a 60-Test threshold for Australia players contracted overseas.

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said he’d hoped to keep Horne but wished him well.

Horne has a Super Rugby season to play for Waratahs before he joins up with Saints, and his coach in Sydney Daryl Gibson is expecting him to try and go out on a high.

“He has been a wonderful servant,” said Gibson.

“He’s been at this club since he was 18 years old, has more than 100 caps for the team and he’s been an upstanding role model.

“He’s still got a Super Rugby campaign to go and I’m sure he’s determined to make sure it’s his best ever.”

Horne has not played since he injured his shoulder playing for Australia in August, and wasn’t involved in Waratahs’ opening pre-season friendly at the weekend.

He is expected to be fit for Waratahs’ Super Rugby opener against Western Force on February 25.

The regular Super Rugby season then runs until July 15, when Waratahs play their final game, also against Force.

The play-offs follow on from the regular season, with the final to be played on Saturday, August 5.

Waratahs did not reach the play-offs in 2016.