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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.

HuffPost Australia

Super Rugby 2016

Round 1
Fri, 26 FebTimes shown AEDT
BLU 0vs HIG 0 17:35EP
BRU 0vs HUR 0 19:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 0vs Jagu 0 04:00FSS
Sunw 0vs LIO 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
CRU 0vs CHF 0 17:35AMI
WAR 0vs RED 0 19:40AS
FOR 0vs REB 0 21:50nib Stadium
Sun, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
King 0vs SHA 0 00:00NMBS
STO 0vs BUL 0 02:05DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 04 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 0vs BLU 0 17:35AMI
BRU 0vs WAR 0 19:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 05 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 0vs LIO 0 15:15FMG Stadium Waikato
HIG 0vs HUR 0 17:35FBS
RED 0vs FOR 0 19:40SS
Sun, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 0vs REB 0 00:00Loftu
CHT 0vs STO 0 02:05FSS
SHA 0vs Jagu 0 04:10GpKP
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 11 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU 0vs HUR 0 17:35EP
FOR 0vs BRU 0 22:05nib Stadium
Sat, 12 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG 0vs LIO 0 17:35FBS
REB 0vs RED 0 19:40AAMI
Sunw 0vs CHT 0 21:50Singapore National Stadium
Sun, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
King 0vs CHF 0 00:00NMBS
STO 0vs SHA 0 02:05DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 18 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 0vs FOR 0 17:35Central Energy Trust Arena
WAR 0vs HIG 0 19:40AS
Sat, 19 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 0vs SHA 0 04:00Loftu
Sunw 0vs REB 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
CRU 0vs King 0 17:35AMI
RED 0vs BLU 0 19:40SS
Sun, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
LIO 0vs CHT 0 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
STO 0vs BRU 0 04:10DHL Newlands
Jagu 0vs CHF 0 09:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 25 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 0vs King 0 17:35WS
Sat, 26 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 0vs FOR 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
REB 0vs HIG 0 19:40AAMI
Sunw 0vs BUL 0 21:50Singapore National Stadium
Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT 0vs BRU 0 00:00FSS
SHA 0vs CRU 0 02:05GpKP
Jagu 0vs STO 0 09:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
RED 0vs WAR 0 16:05SS
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
HIG 0vs FOR 0 17:35FBS
Sat, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
LIO 0vs CRU 0 04:00Emirates Airlines Park
BLU 0vs Jagu 0 17:35QBE Stadium
BRU 0vs CHF 0 19:40GIO Stadium
Sun, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
King 0vs Sunw 0 02:05NMBS
BUL 0vs CHT 0 03:10Loftu
WAR 0vs REB 0 16:05AS
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF 0vs BLU 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
FOR 0vs CRU 0 21:00nib Stadium
Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
STO 0vs Sunw 0 03:00DHL Newlands
HUR 0vs Jagu 0 17:35WS
RED 0vs HIG 0 19:40SS
Sun, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA 0vs LIO 0 01:05GpKP
King 0vs BUL 0 03:10NMBS
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 0vs Jagu 0 17:35AMI
REB 0vs HUR 0 19:40AAMI
Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
CHT 0vs Sunw 0 03:00FSS
BLU 0vs SHA 0 17:35EP
WAR 0vs BRU 0 19:40AS
Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
BUL 0vs RED 0 01:05Loftu
LIO 0vs STO 0 03:10Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
HIG 0vs SHA 0 17:35FBS
REB 0vs CHT 0 19:40AAMI
Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
Sunw 0vs Jagu 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
HUR 0vs CHF 0 17:35WS
FOR 0vs WAR 0 19:40nib Stadium
STO 0vs RED 0 23:00DHL Newlands
Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
King 0vs LIO 0 01:05NMBS
BRU 0vs CRU 0 16:05GIO Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 29 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF 0vs SHA 0 17:35Yarro
FOR 0vs BUL 0 21:05nib Stadium
Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
HIG 0vs BRU 0 15:15Rugby Park
BLU 0vs REB 0 17:35EP
RED 0vs CHT 0 19:40SS
Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO 0vs HUR 0 01:05Emirates Airlines Park
STO 0vs WAR 0 03:10DHL Newlands
Jagu 0vs King 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 0vs RED 0 17:35AMI
BRU 0vs BUL 0 19:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 07 MayTimes shown AEST
Sunw 0vs FOR 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
CHF 0vs HIG 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
WAR 0vs CHT 0 19:40AS
SHA 0vs HUR 0 23:00GpKP
Sun, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
King 0vs BLU 0 01:05NMBS
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG 0vs CRU 0 17:35FBS
REB 0vs BRU 0 19:40AAMI
Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 0vs RED 0 17:35WS
WAR 0vs BUL 0 19:40AS
Sunw 0vs STO 0 21:45Singapore National Stadium
Sun, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT 0vs King 0 01:05FSS
LIO 0vs BLU 0 03:10Emirates Airlines Park
Jagu 0vs SHA 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 0vs WAR 0 17:35AMI
Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
RED 0vs Sunw 0 15:05SS
CHF 0vs REB 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
FOR 0vs BLU 0 19:40nib Stadium
LIO 0vs Jagu 0 23:00Emirates Airlines Park
Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA 0vs King 0 01:05GpKP
BUL 0vs STO 0 03:10Loftu
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 0vs HIG 0 17:35WS
WAR 0vs CHF 0 19:40AS
Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
King 0vs Jagu 0 03:00NMBS
BLU 0vs CRU 0 17:35EP
BRU 0vs Sunw 0 19:40GIO Stadium
STO 0vs CHT 0 23:00DHL Newlands
Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
BUL 0vs LIO 0 01:05Loftu
REB 0vs FOR 0 16:05AAMI
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
CHF 0vs CRU 0 17:35ANZ National Stadium, Suva
BRU 0vs RED 0 19:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
Sunw 0vs WAR 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
HUR 0vs BLU 0 17:35WS
REB 0vs STO 0 19:40AAMI
CHT 0vs FOR 0 23:00FSS
Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
LIO 0vs SHA 0 01:05Emirates Airlines Park
King 0vs HIG 0 03:10NMBS
Jagu 0vs BUL 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
BLU 0vs BRU 0 17:35EP
RED 0vs CHF 0 19:40SS
Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
LIO 0vs King 0 03:00Emirates Airlines Park
CRU 0vs REB 0 17:35AMI
WAR 0vs HUR 0 19:40AS
FOR 0vs STO 0 21:45nib Stadium
Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
BUL 0vs Sunw 0 01:05Loftu
SHA 0vs CHT 0 03:10GpKP
Jagu 0vs HIG 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
BLU 0vs WAR 0 17:35EP
RED 0vs REB 0 19:40SS
Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
SHA 0vs Sunw 0 03:00GpKP
CRU 0vs HUR 0 15:15AMI
HIG 0vs CHF 0 17:35FBS
BRU 0vs FOR 0 19:40GIO Stadium
Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
STO 0vs King 0 01:05DHL Newlands
CHT 0vs BUL 0 03:10FSS
Jagu 0vs LIO 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby Semi Finals
Fri, 29 JulTimes shown AEST
TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
Sat, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby Grand Final
Sat, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
TBC 0vs TBC 0 09:00
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby 2016
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Blues 0 0 0 0 0 0
Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Super Rugby 2016
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0 0
Chiefs 0 0 0 0 0 0
Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0 0
Force 0 0 0 0 0 0
Highlanders 0 0 0 0 0 0
Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rebels 0 0 0 0 0 0
Reds 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all

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