James Horwill has replaced Rocky Elsom as Australia’s captain in a shock move before next month’s Rugby World Cup.


Reds skipper Horwill was surprised when coach Robbie Deans on Thursday

named him to lead the 30-man Wallabies squad to the tournament, kicking

off on September 9 in New Zealand.

Elsom has captained Australia

since 2009 but appears to have lost the job with his position in the

starting team under pressure from Scott Higginbotham.

Deans said Elsom took the news admirably, saying he accepted it in the “best interests of the team”.

“Rocky remains a very important member in the group and remains in the leadership group,” the coach said.


Horwill led the Reds to this year’s Super Rugby title and has also been

Australia’s form forward in their past two Tri-Nations Tests.


expected, 92-Test back Matt Giteau was a notable omission, with Deans

instead selecting NSW playmaker Berrick Barnes as the five-eighth

back-up to Quade Cooper and Melbourne halfback Nick Phipps as a third

specialist halfback.

Bulldozing No.8 Wycliff Palu (shoulder-knee)

heads a list of six wounded Wallabies stars who have been named despite

being grounded by injuries, with Palu out for most of the past two


Deans also selected hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau (knee),

prop James Slipper (ankle) and Drew Mitchell (ankle) who are also yet to

return to action after injury.

Waratah backs Barnes (concussion)

and centre Rob Horne (elbow) were included after recently making

comebacks in club rugby after playing little Super Rugby this season.


Force flanker Matt Hodgson, who has been the back up for ball scavenger

David Pocock, is arguably one of the most unexpected omissions after

being among the Test squad for the past three years.

Australian squad:-

Backs – Kurtley Beale, James O’Connor, Drew

Mitchell, Digby Ioane, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Horne, Pat McCabe,

Anthony Faingaa, Berrick Barnes, Quade Cooper, Nick Phipps, Luke

Burgess, Will Genia.

Forwards – Ben McCalman, Radike Samo,

Wycliff Palu, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom, Scott Higginbotham, James

Horwill (capt), Rob Simmons, Nathan Sharpe, Dan Vickerman, Ben

Alexander, Sekope Kepu, James Slipper, Salesi Ma’afu, Stephen Moore,

Saia Faingaa, Tatafu Polota-Nau.