Stirling Mortlock’s five years as ACT Brumbies captain is over.
Peter Fitzgerald writes in the Canberra Times that the Australian skipper has officially stood down from the primary leadership role he has held at the Super 14 club since taking over from George Gregan in 2004.
Stephen Hoiles, who only joined the Brumbies two seasons ago from the NSW Waratahs, is his replacement.
Capped 16 times by Australia, Hoiles said he felt very comfortable captaining the Brumbies and was fortunate to have a number of world-class leaders in the team, including Mortlock and openside flanker George Smith.
“I honestly believe that we are on the verge of doing something very special at the Brumbies and to be chosen to lead the team during that time is extremely exciting,” Hoiles said.
New Brumbies head coach Andy Friend said Hoiles was one of several excellent captaincy candidates.
“This appointment is recognition of Steve’s senior standing within the side and the respect he has from his teammates,” Friend said.
“While Hoilesy has been a very consistent footballer throughout his career, I belive that we are yet to see the best out of him and by giving him this responsibility it will encourage him to realise that potential.”
Friend said Mortlock and Smith, who has also captained the Brumbies, remained pivotal members of the team and he wanted them to play without the additional responsibility of the captaincy.
Mortlock’s decision to surrender the captaincy comes as little surprise, after he would not commit to the role before Christmas following a discussion with coach Andy Friend.
The 31-year-old intends to remain as Wallabies skipper but it is understood he believed the time was right to hand the Brumbies mantle to a younger player destined for an eventual leadership role.
Friend informed the playing group of the announcement on Sunday night in Jervis Bay, where the players are spending the week at a naval training base.
Hoiles, 27, will become the fourth player appointed as long-term captain of the Brumbies behind Brett Robinson, Gregan and Mortlock since the club joined Super rugby in 1996.
Ewen McKenzie, Owen Finegan, Alister Campbell and George Smith are the only other players to have acted as stand-in skippers in that time.
Hoiles’ only senior captaincy experience came last year with Sydney club Randwick, which he played for after the Super 14 season when snubbed by Wallabies selectors.
He led the team to the NSW final but lost to Sydney University.
The Brumbies’ first Super 14 match for the season is against the Otago Highlanders in Dunedin on February13.Tweet