Brumbies coach Jake White has defended his decision to appoint the untried Ben Mowen as captain, arguing international credentials aren’t a pre-requisite for the job.
The former Waratah was named as skipper on Wednesday, confirming weeks of speculation that he had secured the position ahead of the more experienced Wallabies Stephen Moore and Pat McCabe.
Although Mowen has 42 Super caps to his name and none with the Brumbies, White said the 27-year-old had impressed with his work rate and energy since starting training with the squad almost nine months ago.
He flatly rejected an assumption his new captain should have been more qualified or had a longer history with the team.
“On that basis then Stephen Larkham (former Brumbies flyhalf and now backs coach) would have been the head coach and they wouldn’t have brought in an outsider like me,” the South African told reporters in Canberra.
“It’s quite simple – Ben’s got a track record of being a captain.
“He’s been captain of a team that’s got into the final of a junior World Cup (2005), so he’s got what I want in terms of leadership.”
White said the upcoming season was about heralding in a new era for the Brumbies, which this year welcomes a new coach and new captain as well as saying farewell to a whopping 13 of their starting line-up.
“At this stage in time, the club needs something new – that’s a reality,” White said.
“It’s not taking anything away from the boys who have been here, but there’s a new group here and the dynamics are different.”
Mowen starts the season as the only non-Wallaby Australian captain in Super rugby, but insisted the tag fits well.
“Representing a side with not many Wallabies in it, I think that’s perfect.
“It’s not going to be as if I’m the one guy and that’s the one voice; we need lots of guys and lots of voices.”
Moore was named one of the Brumbies’ three vice-captains, along with McCabe and prop Dan Palmer.
“I think that breaches the gap between where I want to be in four years’ time and where I think we need to be now,” White said.
The 65-Test veteran Moore is still hopeful of starting round one on February 24 against the Western Force after suffering suspected damage to his AC joint in the Brumbies’ last trial in Cairns on the weekend.
Scans have confirmed no damage.
Meanwhile McCabe has his first contact session this week after injuring his shoulder in the World Cup, with his eyes set on a return in the early rounds of the season.