Autumn internationals: James Horwill stood down as Wallabies hand Quade Cooper added responsibility

 

Who'd have thought it? James Horwill, the high-calibre lock whose iron will just about held the Wallabies together during the summer series with the Lions until the tourists broke them in the final half-hour of the deciding Test, has been relieved of the captaincy ahead of the meeting with England at Twickenham. According to the coach, Ewen McKenzie, the Queenslander needs to concentrate on rediscovering the best of himself rather than waste his energy trying to bring the best out of everyone else.

Ben Mowen, the excellent Brumbies back-rower, will be captain, with – wait for it – Quade Cooper as vice-captain. Yes, that's the same Quade Cooper branded as "toxic" by McKenzie's predecessor, Robbie Deans. "I was a bit speechless," the outside-half admitted after being told of his promotion. "To have that title next to your name is pretty special."

Cooper played no part in the Lions series, despite straining every sinew and ransacking his box of tricks on behalf of Queensland in an early tour match. "When I was out of the team I looked at the things that are most important in my life and where rugby sat in it," he said. "How you act as a person away from the game, how you act as a family man… those things roll into how you act as a player around the team. The more you contribute, the more it rubs off on your mates. It has to be an ongoing process. You can't nod off and say: 'I've made it this far and that's enough.' I've learnt that if you do the right thing, more often than not the right thing happens to you."

The wing Nick Cummins and the flanker Scott Fardy are fit after recovering from a broken hand and an eye problem respectively, while Matt Toomua is preferred to Christian Leali'ifano at inside centre.

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