Tim Horan is quite possibly the greatest centre of all time
Major teams: Queensland Reds, Saracens
Test span: 1989-2000
Australia caps: 80 (80 starts)
Test points: 140 (30T)
As his boyhood pal and centre partner Jason Little told Australia’s Courier Mail in 2014: “When we were together, they said we were the world’s best centre pairing. I got dropped and Daniel Herbert came in, and they said he and Tim were the world’s best. There was a common denominator there — and it wasn’t me or Herbie.”
Horan grew up in rural New South Wales, cut his rugby teeth at Toowoomba’s Downlands College, joined the Queensland set-up and won his first Test cap in August 1989, when he hadn’t long turned 19.
When Horan scored two tries on his second appearance for Australia, against France in November 1989, coach Bob Dwyer knew he had found a diamond. Two years later Horan was a World Cup winner, scoring four tries in Australia’s triumphant 1991 campaign.
Horan had great pace, a superb pass, was strong in defence and ran hard lines in attack, shredding the best defences to score 30 Test tries and set up countless others. His career was almost ended prematurely by a catastrophic knee injury suffered at the 1994 Super 10 final. Some experts didn’t expect the 23-year-old to return, but he was back in time for his second World Cup in 1995.
Horan arguably peaked at RWC 1999 when he became one of an elite band to have won the Webb Ellis Cup twice and was named Player of the Tournament. He played a blinder in the semi-final having spent much of the previous 24 hours vomiting because of a vicious stomach bug.
Earlier in the tournament, he won a year’s supply of Guinness and £10,000 for charity for scoring a try in less time than the brewer says it takes to pour the perfect pint (119 seconds – his touchdown against Romania came after just 92).
Horan played his last Test in June 2000, having won nine of his 80 caps at fly-half and one on the wing, and shut the lid on his 114-cap Queensland career so he could join Saracens in England. He made more than 50 appearances for them before retiring in 2003.