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A seat at the captain's table


Chris Dutton

Brumbies captain Ben Mowen and Raiders Captain David Shillington played junior sport together in Queensland.

Brumbies captain Ben Mowen and Raiders Captain David Shillington played junior sport together in Queensland. Photo: Melissa Adams

It looms as the biggest weekend of the ACT Brumbies' and Canberra Raiders' seasons and their rookie captains face a monumental task to galvanise their teams.

Ben Mowen and David Shillington grew up playing rugby against each other in Brisbane, their partners are best friends and now they're leading Canberra's two premier sporting teams.

They've taken very different paths to arrive in the capital as leaders and they're aware of the significance of the next 48 hours.

Mowen and the Brumbies can edge closer to a dream Super Rugby finals spot if they can topple the NSW Waratahs at Canberra Stadium tonight.

The Raiders face a different pressure as they attempt to end the mounting scrutiny on them when they clash with Manly at Brookvale Oval tomorrow.

Both sat down with The Canberra Times this week to talk pressure, expectation, form, coaches and how they used to clash on the rugby field.

Chris Dutton: A lot of people don't know you're good mates, how do you know each other?

Ben Mowen: The first time was we were playing in the battlers rugby competition in Brisbane, both of our schools were poor at rugby. My debut in the first XV was against Shillo and they beat us at Padua College, I remember I got bumped a couple times by the big fella. He could have made it in rugby.

David Shillington: I actually had to choose between rugby and league, the Reds wanted to put me in their academy but the Roosters offered me a deal. I was one or two years older than Ben when we played in Brisbane. The first time I've seen him since we played was when Sonia and I were doing the Coastal Walk in Sydney and we ran into you and Lauren. I saw you coming and I thought 'holy hell, this bloke is huge'.

CD: Is it strange after all these years that you're in the same town and captains of your teams?

DS: It's a pretty funny story, I started taking notice when he was playing good for the Waratahs and have kept track ever since.

BM: We used to catch up in Sydney all the time and we thought that was weird and then to be here is even weirder. It's like I keep following Shillo.

CD: This is a massive weekend for both the Raiders and Brumbies, what are you expecting?

DS: It's good for the town if both teams are going well, Canberra will be buzzing if we win. It's important for us just to stop the losses, it's easy to lose focus and confidence when you're losing. In 2010 the start of our winning streak was against Manly, we just need to show more urgency and get that belief back. Hopefully this is another turning point for us.

BM: These types of games for both teams can change your year. Everyone grows another leg and the switch goes on. For us, to have a chance to skip out to a nine-point lead in the conference would be an unreal lead. It's massive for us and would put us in a commanding position. There's a million reasons this one's big.

CD: You both have a massive task as captains of the Raiders and Brumbies. Shillo, you've stepped in to fill the void left by Terry Campese and Ben you're in charge of the youngest squad in Super Rugby, what's been the biggest challenge?

DS: I would have loved to still be in the leadership group with Terry Campese and Brett White, I was enjoying working with them. Without them now it's a big responsibility. I'm enjoying it and it has made me become closer with a lot of the other senior players like Bronson Harrison, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Dane Tilse and Shaun Berrigan. We're struggling to get the wins consistently and I don't have all the answers. But the least we can do is lead by example, on and off the field, to tick all of the boxes. It's going to take time.

BM: It's not to dissimilar to what Shillo said, first you need the senior guys performing because the young guys need the example and the standard. One of the big challenges as a captain is there are no easy days. Each day you put a shitload into the preparation and when you've had losses or disruption, you've got to take a lot of direction with the team. The rewarding thing is when the performances come out. It's hugely rewarding because the young guys are always motivated, they're excited because it's their first time and we're not going through the motions.

CD: The coaches - Jake White and David Furner - how do you think they've handled this year?

BM: Jake is intense, but only because he knows that if you don't have that, you don't get the results. It comes from a good place and that's why he gets such an immediate response and he's a proven winner. If he says something works it usually works, that's just the way it is.

DS: Furnsey really showed what himself and the coaching team was capable in 2010 and we played some unreal footy. He's still developing good players even though we've been through a lean period. It just has to start transferring to results.

BM: I love David Furner. Growing up in Queensland I used to love watching him play with that tape around his head. I've only got limited knowledge but from what I can see he's an extremely bright coach and the group seems to want to play for him.

CD: Have the off-season overhauls at Brumby and Raiderland worked?

BM: It definitely has for us. We had the feeling early on it was going to work with the coaching staff and rugby program. I believe we've got an international standard coaching staff. That's being reflected in the way the group is working. It's been a hugely successful year so far, but if we fall over and lose the next six it's a rotten year. It's about attitude from now on.

DS: I do believe our changes have worked, but injuries and form suggest otherwise. We made plenty of changes and we're in a lot better stead that way. People might think it has been a bit of a waste of time, but we just need to be patient with the things we've done and eventually we'll be better of it. You've got to be winning.

BM: But you're not even halfway through the NRL season. If you guys go on a run now and slide into the top eight then everything's perfect. It's so early in the season to judge the Raiders.

DS: We don't want to wait to make our run, we want to start now so we're not relying on anything later in the year.

CD: It's been a tough year for Canberra playmakers. First Matt Toomua ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament, then Terry Campese. What does that do to a team?

DS: You just have to stay focused, you can use it as an excuse but we've got guys who are capable in the halves and they've got a strong combination. You have to keep the belief that you can have a successful year.

BM: The thing is you've got to build a team structure around those guys so it's not reliant on one player. As long as you get consistency from the performance, you're sweet.

DS: We felt for Campo more than the team, he has had a horror two years. He was playing good footy and you can still see the passion in him and hopefully he can pass that on to the boys.

BM: It's the same with Matt, you're disappointed for your mate. But the guys come back better players because they've mentally gone through that tough period so they can come back and direct the team better.

CD: Because you're good mates, can you go to each other and chat about the challenges of being a captain, even in different codes?

DS: Definitely, we had lunch the other week and I was asking Benny about the make-up of their day to try to tinker with a few things with what we're doing at the Raiders. Maybe we can steal a few ideas and tweak some things.

BM: The thing I've noticed is Canberra loves their teams. It's a good base we've got here and it seems like the crowds are getting back to what they used to be.

CD: Shillo, what position did you play in rugby?

DS: I was a breakaway or No.8, but believe it or not when I was 14 I was short so I was a hooker. Then I had growth spurts.

CD: Ben, could some of the Raiders make it in Super Rugby?

BM: Definitely, Shillo's size just doesn't exist in rugby. He'd get eaten up, they'd love him. I love Learoyd-Lahrs's explosiveness, Waddell could easily be a flyhalf or scrumhalf. The work ethic in both codes is what marries up so well. Maybe we should blend the Raiders and Brumbies in a team, I reckon we'd do all right.

CD: Any tips for Ben ahead of his first season of brutally cold nights at Canberra Stadium?

BM: We've already discussed this at lunch, I've started to notice the cold already.

DS: You get used to it. It's not like Queensland, you wear shoes instead of thongs and put a hoodie on as soon as you wake up.

CD: Now that your partners Lauren and Sonia have got you in the same town again, are you booked in for regular dinner parties?

BM: We ran into Sonia at the Canberra Show, the girls work full-time so it's hard. But when we can, we do.

Super Rugby 2015

Round 1
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Report Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Report Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Report Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Report Stats
HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Report Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
STO 29 vs SHA 13 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
RED vs BRU 29 Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
CHT 10 vs SHA 27 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
REB 16 vs LIO 20 Report Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 57 vs CHT 14 Report Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 25 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
SHA 12 vs CHF 11 Report Stats
WAR 28 vs BRU 13 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 36 vs REB 12 Report Stats
RED 17 vs LIO 18 Report Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 37 vs CHT 27 Report Stats
HIG 39 vs STO 21 Report Stats
WAR 23 vs BLU 11 Report Stats
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA 15 vs FOR 9 Report Stats
BUL 31 vs CRU 19 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR 25 vs STO 20 Report Stats
REB 23 vs RED 15 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF 23 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
BRU 20 vs CHT 3 Report Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA 10 vs CRU 52 Report Stats
LIO 22 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU 16 vs BRU 14 Report Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 20 vs HIG 25 Report Stats
WAR 18 vs STO 32 Report Stats
FOR 15 vs CHT 24 Report Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 23 vs SHA 21 Report Stats
BUL 43 vs RED 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 9 vs CHF 26 Report Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR 24 vs WAR 29 Report Stats
HIG 30 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
BRU 8 vs REB 13 Report Stats
FOR 6 vs STO 13 Report Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA 10 vs BUL 17 Report Stats
CHT 17 vs RED 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF 35 vs FOR 27 Report Stats
BRU 31 vs HIG 18 Report Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 29 vs BLU 15 Report Stats
WAR 18 vs REB 16 Report Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 34 vs CHT 29 Report Stats
STO 15 vs BUL 13 Report Stats
RED 19 vs HUR 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG 48 vs SHA 15 Report Stats
BRU 10 vs WAR 13 Report Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 41 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
HUR 29 vs CRU 23 Report Stats
REB 16 vs CHF 15 Report Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT 25 vs STO 17 Report Stats
BUL 35 vs LIO 33 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 58 vs RED 17 Report Stats
REB 42 vs BLU 22 Report Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 32 vs SHA 24 Report Stats
FOR 18 vs WAR 11 Report Stats
LIO 28 vs HIG 23 Report Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
STO 25 vs BRU 24 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 23 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
RED 46 vs REB 29 Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 22 vs CHF 18 Report Stats
WAR 33 vs SHA 18 Report Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO 20 vs BRU 30 Stats
CHT 24 vs HIG 45 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF 34 vs BUL 20 Report Stats
RED 14 vs SHA 21 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 5 vs HUR 29 Report Stats
WAR 32 vs CRU 22 Report Stats
FOR 3 vs HIG 23 Report Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT 17 vs LIO 40 Report Stats
STO 31 vs REB 15 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 35 vs HUR 18 Report Stats
BRU 22 vs BUL 16 Report Stats
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA 25 vs REB 21 Report Stats
HIG 36 vs CHF 9 Report Stats
FOR 10 vs RED 32 Report Stats
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
STO 42 vs CHT 12 Report Stats
LIO 27 vs WAR 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR 56 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
FOR 20 vs BRU 33 Report Stats
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB 21 vs BUL 20 Report Stats
BLU 11 vs CRU 34 Report Stats
RED 3 vs CHF 24 Report Stats
CHT 33 vs WAR 58 Report Stats
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
STO 19 vs LIO 19 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU 7 vs HIG 44 Report Stats
REB 11 vs FOR 13 Report Stats
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU 24 vs CRU 37 Report Stats
CHF 13 vs HUR 21 Report Stats
WAR 31 vs RED 5 Report Stats
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL 29 vs CHT 42 Report Stats
SHA 34 vs STO 12 Stats
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby Qualifying Finals
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
HIG 24 vs CHF 14 Report Stats
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
STO 19 vs BRU 39 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby Semi Finals
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR 29 vs BRU 9 Stats
WAR 17 vs HIG 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby Grand Final
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
HUR 14 vs HIG 21 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Hurricanes 16 14 2 0 170 66
Waratahs 16 11 5 0 96 52
Stormers 16 10 5 1 50 45
Highlanders 16 11 5 0 117 53
Brumbies 16 9 7 0 108 47
Lions 16 9 6 1 -22 42
Chiefs 16 10 6 0 73 48
Bulls 16 7 9 0 9 38
View all

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