Rob Horne eyes vacant NSW Waratahs centre position

Rob Horne has hinted on a return to the Waratah’s vacant centre berth this season after the departure of veteran back Adam Ashley-Cooper.

The 26-year-old started his career in the midfield before making the move to the wing two years ago under former head coach Michael Cheika, making the role his own at the 2015 Rugby World Cup until a shoulder injury halted his progress.

Now fresh from an extended break following his international exertions, Horne is ready to battle it out for a playing position on the front line.

New wing recruits Zac Guildford and Reece Robinson have adapted well so far and assistant-turned-head coach Daryl Gibson has been toying around with the idea of shifting regular fullback Israel Folau to outside centre, giving Horne stiff competition for a starting place on the team sheet.

Speaking to the media on Monday, Horne said, “I’ve been working a fair bit in the centres this preseason but I’ll play wherever Daryl decides that it’s best for the team.

“It’s hard to say until we start playing. A lot of the guys are shifting between different positions and seeing what combinations work.

“Each position has its own intricacies and you learn from experience. Any player that shifts position- there will be a period of learning but all our outside backs are interchangeable and everyone can play different positions so I think that’s key in the modern game and how sides play to win, you have to be able to shift because the game’s so fast you find yourself in different positions all the time.”

The departure of players such as Ashley-Cooper, Sekope Kepu and Jacques Potgieter from the 2014 title winning squad has been a focal point this season, while the loss of Cheika’s services will worry certain sections of the Waratahs fan base, who have taken to the attacking-minded side.

And while Horne admits the title win two years ago may be difficult to replicate, he says the team have not changed their identity or training philosophy.

“We’re enjoying the work together and Daryl brings a different approach to the game, a different set of eyes and background to it,” he said.

“We’ve laid a foundation of work ethic in the past three years and all our supporters know how we play and enjoy that. That base level stuff is not going to change but how we go about it may change a little bit.”

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