Former Saints star Horne 'humbled' after earning RPA award

Rob Horne has been honoured by the RPA
Rob Horne has been honoured by the RPA

Rob Horne says he is 'humbled and appreciative' after the Rugby Players Association announced it would be honouring the former Saints centre at an awards dinner at Twickenham on May 8.

Horne has been confirmed as the recipient of this year's RPA Blyth Spirit Award, which recognises tremendous courage in the face of adversity.

The former Australia international was forced to retire last April at the age of just 28 after suffering full paralysis of his right arm during Saints' win against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road.

Horne has since shown remarkable bravery and resilience, inspiring those around him through his positive attitude.

After returning to Australia with his family, he has been raising awareness of brachial plexus nerve injuries, while working as a mentor with the Australian Men's 7s squad and coaching Australia in a wheelchair exhibition match at the Invictus Games last October.

Horne has also been putting together an initiative to take on the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea to raise vital funds for spinal injuries.

The climb will be a gruelling 100km walk through the New Guinea highlands, retracing the route taken by Australian World War 2 soldiers as they battled against the forward marching Japanese force.

And after hearing of his RPA award, Horne said: "I am humbled and appreciative to receive the Blyth Spirit Award.

"I want to thank the rugby community as a whole for their unwavering support during a life-changing event.

"The thing about life-changing injuries is that they change lives, for everyone involved.

"My brachial plexus injury has challenged me but also enlightened me through exposure to new experiences, inspiring people and different perspectives.

"I don't believe that things happen for a reason, I believe that things happen, then it's up to you as to what happens next."

Horne, who won 34 Test caps for Australia, scored eight tries in 21 appearances for Saints, having moved to the club from Super Rugby side the Waratahs in 2017.

He was named players' and supporters' player of the season at the end of his only campaign at Franklin's Gardens.

And Damian Hopley, Group CEO of the RPA, said: "Rob has inspired us all with his determination and can-do attitude to move forward in a positive way in the face of a life-changing injury.

"Rob made a lasting impression over a successful 10-year career and is renowned as a popular, respected, hard-working team-mate who not only made a huge impact in Australia but also during his short time here in England.

"His battling spirit and determination to get on with life, support his family, and inspire those around him, underlines why he is such a thoroughly deserving winner of the RPA Blyth Spirit Award."