Dennis relishing back row return

Date published: February 24 2016

NSW Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson says relieving Dave Dennis of the captaincy will enable the veteran forward to push for a Wallabies recall.

Dennis will join English club Exeter after this season and made the last of his 18 Test appearances back in November 2013.

He has been replaced as team captain by Wallabies flanker Michael Hooper and has the off-field role of club captain.

"Part of the reason behind getting Michael Hooper to captain the team was to free Dave up so he could really just concentrate on being the best No.6 in the country," Gibson said.

"I still believe Dave can play for the Wallabies, he's certainly got the potential.

"I really want him to go out this year and show what a fantastic player he can be and go out with a bang."

Gibson admitted changing captains had not been easy, though Hooper has already led both NSW and Australia.

"When you have such a fantastic leader as Dave has been for the club,it's a difficult decision," he said.

"But seeing the growth of Michael Hooper and his elevation and now that Dave has made his decision (to leave at the end of the season).

"The luxury of having the experience of Dave Dennis and Dean Mumm behind Michael Hooper will mean that he will be able to grow and lean on those guys during the tough times."

Dennis is pleased to be back at blindside flanker this year after spending last season in the second row.

"I feel it's my natural position," Dennis said.

"I found myself probably playing a little bit tighter and probably a little one-paced in the work I did because you are playing that tighter role.

"Getting a bit wide of the ruck now, trying to get my hands on the ball a. bit more and go back to. more of that ball playing, ball carrying."

Although he captained the team in it's 2014 Super title winning season, Dennis missed out on the final because of injury.

"It's driving me a lot," Dennis said.

"In 2014 I was very much part of the group but not being out on the field still hurts.

"I'm every motivated to finish on a high this year and I think we've got the team to go really well."