SYDNEY - Telling James Horwill there was no room for him in the Wallabies squad for Saturday's Rugby Championship opener at ANZ Stadium was about as pleasant for coach Ewen McKenzie as telling Bernard Foley he'd been relegated too.
McKenzie, though, knows making the tough calls is the only way to break New Zealand's 12-year hold of the Bledisloe Cup.
And he says he's made no more difficult decisions in his coaching career than overlooking Horwill, his captain of the champion Queensland Reds Super Rugby outfit in 2011 and Australia's last World Cup skipper to boot.
"I know him pretty well so they're not easy conversations to have," McKenzie said after opting for Sam Carter to partner lineout chief Rob Simmons in the second row, with giant lock Will Skelton to come off the bench in an impact role.
"We know what James Horwill can do and he's a very experienced campaigner so there'd be every reason to include him.
"In the end, we've come up with the best for this game."