Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Tim Horan will hope to rediscover some of the class he displayed as a Wallabies centre.
Tim Horan will hope to rediscover some of the class he displayed as a Wallabies centre.

Horan to roll back the years

The Australian great to play for Vets while Greenwood and Healey will also turn out for all-star charity team over the weekend.

DUBAI // Six years after finally hanging up his boots, and 15 years after being told he would never play the game again, the double World Cup winner Tim Horan will return to the playing field at this weekend's Dubai Rugby Sevens. The former Wallabies centre, who is universally regarded as a modern rugby great, is set to run out alongside an array of former internationals for the Christina Noble Children's Foundation side in the International Vets competition.

Or, more accurately, hobble out. The 39-year-old Australian has only played two charity matches since he finished his professional career, the final two seasons of which were spent in London with Saracens. After a lengthy courting period, he has finally accepted the chance to don the charity side's trademark yellow jersey in the 10-a-side competition. He has successfully negotiated the 15-hour flight from Australia's east coast, and cast off the jet lag, but, with glum inevitability, he is already carrying a knock.

"I have been asked to come and play for the Foundation for the past four years but have not been able to make it due to work commitments back in Australia," said Horan. "Now I have got the chance to come out I have got a sore calf. But whether you play one game or just 30 seconds you are an ambassador for the charity. It is a great way for us to give back to the community." Horan may have to sit out today's pool matches in order to be fully fit for Christina Noble's knock-out exertions tomorrow and Saturday.

Having played so rarely since 2003, he is acutely aware of his body's limitations. He became well versed in managing injuries during a Test career that brought him 80 caps, as well as Webb Ellis Cup winners medals in 1991 and 1999. Between those two triumphs he suffered a knee injury that should have ended his career, but rebounded so successfully that he was named the player of the tournament in 1999.

"The knee injury I had has caught up with me," added the Sydney-born back. "It was 1994 and the doctor pretty much said, 'That was the last game of rugby you will ever play'. That was followed by the operation and, all in all, it took me 15 months to get back. I still have a lot of joint pain from that injury." Whatever concerns Horan has over his fitness are not likely to matter too greatly. Christina Noble have more recognisable faces in their side than any of sides in the main IRB competition, let alone the over-35 age group in which they are playing.

Austin Healey and Will Greenwood, the former housemates, as well as England and Leicester Tigers colleagues, will arrive this morning to join the squad. Tim Stimpson, the former British Lions full-back, and Chris Sheasby, who won the inaugural World Cup Sevens with England, are both Christina Noble regulars, while Horan will also link up with his former Wallabies teammate Damian Smith. All of which means he is set for a free ride in the midfield. "Damian's a good mate of mine, and he said, 'You have to come over and play, you'll love it'.

"I thought that I needed to go this year - my body is not going to hold up for much longer. "I don't do a lot of running but if I can get out the field and just be part of the group, that will be more important than actually playing the games." @Email:pradley@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Manager Matt Williams benching star Bryce Harper, above, may have sent the wrong message to the rest of the Washington Nationals. Mike Ehrmann / AFP

Benching Harper sends Williams’s right message the wrong way

Matt Williams, the Washington Nationals manager, made the biggest move of his 18-game tenure on Saturday, benching rising star Bryce Harper for his “lack of hustle”.

 Players such as George Springer are a sign that things are starting to swing in the Houston Astros' favour. But more help is needed. Scott Halleran / AFP

Houston Astros are still earth-bound but help is on the way

As harbingers of a new era go, the Houston Astros could have done worse than misspelling their new phenom’s name on his major-league debut.

 Luis Suarez became the first Liverpool player to score 30 Premier League goals in a season since Ian Rush in 1987. Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

Sterling and Suarez inpire Liverpool to win over Norwich City

The win takes the Premier League table-toppers to 80 points from 35 games.

 Arsenal's Lukas Podolski celebrates his second goal during the Premier League match against Hull City at The KC Stadium in Hull, England, on April 20, 2014. Lynne Cameron / AP Photo

Arsenal maintain push for top-four finish with victory at Hull

Hull could end up in Europe regardless of the FA Cup final result if Arsenal finish in the Uefa Champions League places

 Ashish Nehra of Chennai Super Kings bowls to Kings XI Punjab at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Hard-hitting Chennai not deterred by opening loss in IPL

But some questions remain about the team's attack ahead of Monday's match against Delhi Daredevils in Abu Dhabi, writes Osman Samiuddin.

 Stanislas Wawrinka turned away fellow Swiss Roger Federer with a 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 victory at the Monte Carlo Masters on April 20, 2014. Julian Finney / Getty Images

Wawrinka backhands Federer aside at Monte Carlo Masters

Stanislas Wawrinka won the Monte Carlo Masters for the first time after rallying to beat Roger Federer 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 in a rare all-Swiss final.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National