Three years ago, the Ireland wing was haring towards the tryline in Lansdowne Road when the six-foot five, 17-stone All Black forward reeled him in and hauled him down.
Horgan’s Munster colleagues took great pleasure in teasing him about being caught in such a manner by a lock — not to mention one who was making his test debut having never even played in the Super 14.
“It was a good day,” said Eaton yesterday on his return to the Irish capital. “I didn’t make any mistakes so I have pleasing memories of Dublin. Everyone has been talking about some tackle I made on a winger. It was just the whole occasion really.
“It was definitely a crazy time. I never expected to be there. It was a bit of an eye opener. I had to keep pinching myself to make sure it was actually happening. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Horgan’s blushes should have faded over the course of the next year by which time Eaton had played nine more times for his country and been named the International Rugby Players’ Association’s (IRPA) international newcomer of the year.
His burgeoning reputation accounted for little when, less than six months later, he ruptured the ACL in his left knee in a Super 14 game for the Hurricanes against the Highlanders.
With his knee having been completely reconstructed, it is now almost exactly two years since he won the last of his 10 All Black caps but he is expected to bridge that gap at some stage of the current European tour.
“It’s been a long time since the last time I was in this group. Unfortunately, I haven’t got the chance to get some game time yet but I’m hoping it will happen somewhere along the line on this tour and I’ll be looking to take that opportunity.
“There has definitely been a few changes to the squad since I have been here but it is so rewarding to get back here after the injury. Second time around it is that little bit easier. You know a few of the personnel.”