Incumbent ACT Brumbies skipper Sam Carter is keen to retain the captaincy role next year, and the sleepless nights that come with it, if new coach Dan McKellar decides he is the right man for the job.
But the tireless lock says he will happily step aside if McKellar opts for someone else, with the looming return of Christian Lealiifano and David Pocock to add starch to the Brumbies’ leadership group.
McKellar will wait until the entire squad returns to training in January before making a decision on who will lead the Brumbies into the 2018 Super Rugby season.
Carter grew into his first year as captain, admitting he the responsibility weighed heavily on his shoulders before the first game of the season.
He shared the role with Lealiifano in a co-captains arrangement and led the Brumbies to their fifth consecutive finals berth.
Asked if wanted to continue as captain, Carter said: “Absolutely. Christian did all of the off-field stuff, and when it was on the field it was my turn.
“I know if Christian is back in the team next year he’ll be calling all of the plays anyway. There’s a few leaders within in the team and whoever has the ‘c’ next to their name is irrelevant.
“We could go with co-captains or a single model, it just depends what the coaches go with. Whoever is picked will lead the team.
“I didn’t get much sleep [before the first game], I was a bit worried about all of the things that could have gone wrong. The more game time I got as captain, the more irrelevant all of those worries were.
“I’d be comfortable [if I’m not captain], I’ll do everything I can to support the team and be a leader on the field anyway. As long as everyone’s working towards the same goal as a team.”
The Brumbies launched their 2018 jersey on Tuesday and will finish their first pre-season block on Friday, with the players to restart training on January 8.
Lealiifano and Pocock will arrive back in Canberra two weeks later after finishing their respective playing stints in Ireland and Japan.
Christian Lealiifano. Photo: Rohan Thomson
“Both of those players have been involved in Wallabies teams in the past, the form Christian is showing Ulster will be a bonus and benefit for us,” McKellar said.
“They’re smart footballers, they’ve been around a long time and they’ll fit into our program seamlessly in terms of how we want to play. I’ve been talking to them to keep them in the loop to make sure it’s not information overload when they do get back.
“The guys in leadership positions now won’t be cast aside and forgotten about when we get senior players back, we’ll make sure there’s flow on and continue to develop leaders.”
Carter played three Tests for the Wallabies in June, but was overlooked for the Rugby Championships and end of year spring tour of Europe.
But McKellar hoped the Brumbies change of style would help Carter show improvements in his game to put him back on the Wallabies radar.
“I think he’s started already, the changes we make to how we play the game will hopefully suit the areas he wants to improve,” McKellar said.
“He’s in the best shape I’ve seen him in since I’ve been at the Brumbies and is leading by his actions. Carts is always in good condition, that’s a strength of his game.
“He’s got a very good engine, but I think he’s probably taken that to another level.”
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