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Mowen caps remarkable turnaround to become new Wallabies captain

Captaincy material: New Wallabies skipper Ben Mowen is looking forward to the challenge.

Captaincy material: New Wallabies skipper Ben Mowen is looking forward to the challenge. Photo: Getty Images

New Wallabies captain Ben Mowen is the ''right guy at the right time'' to lead the team out of a slump and coach Ewen McKenzie has backed his ''demanding'' leadership to deliver a Test victory on Saturday night.

Mowen was installed as captain while halfback Will Genia was dumped to the Wallabies bench on Wednesday as McKenzie searches for a spark to end a four-match losing streak. In a sign that no one is safe in the Wallabies line-up, McKenzie axed Genia in the hope it will motivate him to rediscover his world-class form.

That leaves six-Test Wallaby Mowen as the man in charge of resurrecting the Wallabies' Rugby Championship campaign. It's a remarkable turnaround from the player, who was on the outer with the Waratahs in 2011 and appeared unlikely to ever play for Australia.

James Slipper. Click for more photos

Wallabies team to face Argentina

The Wallabies have a new captain with Ben Mowen to lead the team into action against Argentina on Saturday night after Will Genia was dumped from the starting XV on Wednesday. Photo: Getty Images

''There would have been a time when [Mowen] thought he was going nowhere, that he was just treading water in Australian rugby,'' McKenzie said. ''Things change. He's got his own style of leadership, he's very definite about things. Some of those things will give us an outcome. He's the right guy at the right time.''

With Genia and regular captain James Horwill (hamstring) out, Adam Ashley-Cooper will step up as vice-captain. McKenzie said dropping Genia was about making ''hard decisions'' to try to get the win the Wallabies desperately crave. McKenzie has lost all three matches as Wallabies coach since taking over from Robbie Deans in July.

''Will has responded already. It's been a difficult week for him but he's out there working hard … ultimately we'll get an outcome on both fronts - find a new Test standard player and Will will push himself to find that world-class form,'' McKenzie said. ''We know he's a world-class player, he just has to find a couple of per cent there. World-class players are that way for a reason - they're super competitive, so he'll accept the competition and then do something about it. We have to keep looking for things to spark the team up to get an outcome. We're not in the business of hoping things get better.''

McKenzie has made four changes to his 23-man squad as the Wallabies prepare to take on Argentina in Perth. Nic White replaces Genia at halfback and Ben Alexander returns to the starting XV as the tight-head prop. Giant forward Sitaleki Timani has been added to the bench to add muscle after the Wallabies were bashed last weekend and outside back Tevita Kuridrani is back on the reserves list.

Mowen has transformed his career since joining the Brumbies at the start of last year and made his Test debut in June. The former Waratah and Queensland Red has found his feet at the Brumbies and led the team into the Super Rugby final last month.

At the start of the season and seemingly on the outer with Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, Mowen contemplated leaving Australian rugby to sign a lucrative contract in Japan. But he decided to stay to chase his Wallabies dream and it is paying dividends. He played all three Tests against the British and Irish Lions and has cemented his place in the forward pack.

White said Brumbies captain Mowen would ask the team to ''do the shitters'' in the match against Argentina. ''The shitters'' are the jobs no one wants to do, but are required to win games. ''He sets high standards, and if you don't meet them he gets pretty angry,'' White said. ''He'll want the blokes to do the shitters. He says what he's going to do, then does it and expects everyone to follow.

''Ben's got a very clear idea of how things should be done and he gets people to buy into those things. It's easy to buy into because he makes it logical. He's passionate and you know everything he does is to get the best for the team.''

Twitter: @BlockaDutton

17 comments so far

  • C'mon Mowen!!!! I really like this decision - recon Higginbotham would make good captain also. Lets get behind the team and coach instead of bagging them. GO YOU GOOD THINGS!

    Commenter
    Jas
    Date and time
    September 12, 2013, 1:47AM
    • Dropping Genia is the right decision. He needs to get himself sorted.

      I like Mowen but he's not the monster we need at #8. No disresect for the young man, that's just the way it is. I think he's better suited for #6 at test level.

      Commenter
      Yank
      Location
      USA
      Date and time
      September 12, 2013, 5:28AM
      • Mowen is a good leader and will make a good Captain . He has been overlooked as a player for too long . I thought he was worth a chance in a big squad when he was still at the Reds. He needs now to look at his defence , run more and keep close contact with Jake White.
        McKenzie should make this appointment permanent . Horwill is a solid player , but he won't get any better .He is now a bench mark for the pretenders , and so far they don't seem inclined to want match him let alone go past him. We badly need them to do so right now.

        Commenter
        Mankad
        Location
        Up in the bush
        Date and time
        September 12, 2013, 6:14AM
        • He needs to start with his own "shitter" - putting his head in the scrum and pushing until we win the ball and clear it.

          Commenter
          Hatchet
          Date and time
          September 12, 2013, 6:21AM
          • I know Horwell is out but I think this is a good move... For the long term. The Wallabies forwards have been soft and weak for some time. the team needs to stop playing touch footy and start building pressure.... Otherwise I will just keep watching the Swans. Never thought I would say that.

            Commenter
            Occyman
            Date and time
            September 12, 2013, 6:53AM
            • To be honest. I think Mowen is one of Australia's softest forwards! He hasn't won any of the collisions against the AB's in the first two tests, and he was found wanting last week. He's not a test 6,7 or 8 for mine. He was made to look good at the Brumbies by a certain 7 who flew over from Japan and proved he could still dominate a game.

              Commenter
              Gonzo
              Location
              Brisbane
              Date and time
              September 13, 2013, 6:24AM
          • Im curious to see whether Genia will be brough on with 3 mins to go in the game. We need to utilise our bench more with players comin on with 20+ mins to go.
            The sad thing is that no matter how good White plays this week Genia will be put back in the team next week. What he needs is a good month sitting on the bench to reevaluate his position, his ego and his current form. Finally someone has stood up to the media and shown that Genia is no long invincible

            Commenter
            Mattty
            Date and time
            September 12, 2013, 7:01AM
            • Alright let's get mowen baby !!!

              Commenter
              Ray
              Location
              Sydney
              Date and time
              September 12, 2013, 7:14AM
              • Mowen needs to listen to his own advice and "do the shitters" himself...like pushing in the scrum, not standing at the back with your head up looking around!

                Commenter
                Redmond
                Location
                Redtown
                Date and time
                September 12, 2013, 8:23AM
                • I agree. As someone who has played every position in the forwards, I can tell you that this blaming the props every time our scrum gets shoved back is starting to give me the "shitters". The props job is to hold up the scrum. they're not in a good position to push. The real shove comes from the second row and No.8, with support from the flankers. If our No 8 has his head up we're missing a big proportion of our shoving power. Compound this when Hooper is typically hanging on with one hand and we're making it easy for the opposition to shove us back and destabilise the props.

                  Commenter
                  Nat
                  Location
                  Brisbane
                  Date and time
                  September 12, 2013, 3:49PM

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