Sam Twomey has enjoyed a breakthrough season at Harlequins – and the young lock admits he could hardly have asked for a better mentor than former Australia captain James Horwill.
Horwill joined the Twickenham Stoop side from Super Rugby outfit Queensland Reds after being overlooked by coach Michael Cheika for his country’s 2015 Rugby World Cup squad.
After putting the disappointment of missing the World Cup in England, Horwill has become a vital cog in the Harlequins machine.
His arrival has made competition for places all the more fierce but 23-year-old Twomey has had his most productive season to date in a Harlequins shirt, with seven Aviva Premiership Rugby starts to his name so far.
And Twomey says Horwill’s influence is rubbing off on him – on and off the pitch – despite needing to view him as a competitor for the Harlequins jersey.
“James Horwill is a great guy to have in the club,” Twomey said.
“You are learning off him but you want to be in the first 15 too. He’s such a character around the club, he and Adam Jones are good guys and they’re bringing so much experience.
“There are things that they do that you can add to your repertoire so it’s brilliant having them around the club.”
Twomey’s development stalled when he had an operation on an injured ankle – which he picked up against
London Irish in December – but he completed his first full 80 minutes since the operation against the same opposition last weekend in the European Challenge Cup.
He helped Harlequins set up a semi-final clash with Grenoble and they are still alive and kicking on the Aviva
Premiership Rugby front too, just five points behind fourth-place Leicester Tigers with three games to go.
Now Twomey is desperate to ensure he builds on that returning performance, with the business end of the season now well and truly on.
The Harlequins academy product said: “Personally I started off well, I started the first nine games and it was going really well.
“I was glad to be involved but then against London Irish I tore a ligament in my ankle and was out until March but to get back into the fray is good.
“I love playing at the Stoop, the crowd have been brilliant every time we’ve play there, it’s an absolute privilege.”
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