Brumbies back Mowen as captain
Brumbies captain Ben Mowen at training on Monday. Photo: Melissa Adams
Ben Mowen's first season as ACT Brumbies captain was so outstanding there would have been ''more downside'' in stripping his captaincy this year.
Mowen will be reconfirmed as Brumbies captain on Wednesday after almost guiding the Super Rugby club to its first finals series since 2004 last year.
His reappointment came despite the arrival of Wallabies skipper David Pocock.
Mowen almost lead the Brumbies to a finals appearance last year. Photo: Melissa Adams
It's a similar set-up to when Wallabies and Brumbies legend Stirling Mortlock was in charge of the club - Mortlock took control of the Brumbies when George Gregan became captain of the Wallabies.
Mortlock said Mowen had done such a good job with a young and largely unknown squad last year, it could have hurt the team if he lost the job.
He praised Mowen's leadership qualities and said he'd ''risen to the challenge'' after Jake White gave him the role, saying the addition of Pocock would make Mowen an even better leader.
Mowen can now draw on the international experience of the world's best No.7.
''The way the season panned out for them last year and how well the team went and how well they gelled under his leadership, there's probably more downside in changing it,'' Mortlock said on Tuesday. ''I think it's a wise move.''
The Mowen-Pocock relationship is a familiar one for the Brumbies. During their golden era, they had Mortlock and Gregan. It coincided with the last time the Brumbies won the championship.
Mortlock said captaining the Wallabies was such a big job it would allow Pocock to relax and be at his best for both his province and country.
''I felt it really helped me develop as a leader and also captaining your country is an all-encompassing role,'' he said. ''I know David has only been involved with it for a short period of time, but it's quite refreshing to not be the captain of every team you're involved with, to keep yourself fresh for the Wallabies.
''[John Eales] was very rarely captain of the [Queensland] Reds.''
At no stage did White consider changing his captain.
The World Cup-winning coach said he always had faith in Mowen, but speculation was rife after the player said last year he would move aside for Pocock if it was best for the team.
But White was unwavering in his support. The history of the Brumbies and the role the Mortlock-Gregan partnership played was not lost on White, who has long been a fan of the Canberra club's culture.
''You don't get demoted as the captain. [Mowen's] the captain of the squad … David's national captain,'' White said. ''If you look at the history of the Brumbies, one of the most successful times they've had is when George was captain of Australia and Stirling was captain of the Brumbies and I don't believe there's any need to change it.
''I'm sure David will want to contribute. One of the nice things I'm trying to do for David Pocock is to get him to enjoy his rugby again, without having all the pressures of being captain and making decisions … I just want to take the load off him.''
White will also announce his vice-captains on Wednesday. Last year Stephen Moore, Pat McCabe and prop Dan Palmer deputised for Mowen.