STRONG FOCUS: James Horwill.
STRONG FOCUS: James Horwill. Chris Hyde

Captain backs Reds despite facing wooden spoon

RUGBY UNION: A surprisingly level-headed James Horwill yesterday urged officials to stay cool this off-season as his side faces the prospect of a Super Rugby wooden spoon.

Hours before a visit to Kawana's Stockland Stadium the hot-headed skipper unleashed on a Suncorp Stadium press conference after his team's sixth-straight loss.

The trip to the Coast seemed to calm the 200cm, 117kg lock, who urged Queensland officials not to overreact as the team slumped to the bottom of the ladder.

"In professional rugby change is inevitable ... but we're very happy with what we have got, we've just got to perform better than what we are doing," he said.

"We know we've got the ability as a group, just across the board we have to be performing better and there's no secret to it other than hard work and sticking at it."

There is speculation about second-year coach Richard Graham's future and the potential recruitment of high profile stars James O'Connor and Karmichael Hunt.

The pressure appeared to be getting to Horwill after Saturday night's 30-27 loss to Melbourne when he told Fox Sports Reds were "robbed" and complained in a post-match press conference about the television match official.

The 28-year-old was enraged after the video referee stopped a Reds' 79th minute attacking play and awarded Melbourne a penalty because cameras spotted Queensland's Ed O'Donoghue gauging a Rebels player on an earlier play.

"I have played more than 150 games of professional rugby and I have never ever, ever seen that happen before - ever," Horwill said. "Super Rugby has always been about expansive rugby but it's going out of the game because too much of the game is being slowed down to look back (at incidents)."

Horwill put the incident behind him as he posed for pictures and gave medals to kids competing in the Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon.

"It (the loss) disappointing but we're going to keep working at it," he said.

Even the lure of the Wallabies captaincy could not distract him.

"In the end it's not my focus, it's not in my thought process," he said. "I'm worried about winning games for the Reds and that's my focus," Horwill said.


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