The Western Force have announced that club stalwarts Ben McCalman and Heath Tessmann will be their new captains in 2017.
In addition, club legend and former captain Matt Hodgson will play an important mentoring role – allowing the club to lean on his considerable experience to grow their next generation of leaders.
McCalman will take the role of the on-field captain, while Tessmann will be the off-field captain responsible for standards and team culture.
The trio have amassed 285 Super Rugby caps between them.
Western Force head coach Dave ‘Blood’ Wessels says that this is a positive announcement for the club and has full faith in both McCalman and Tessmann.
“It’s pretty typical of Hodgo’s (Matt Hodgson’s) selfless nature that he wants to play a leading role in developing the next generation of Force captains while he’s still playing – something he perhaps never had the benefit of when he took over,” he told the Western Force’s official website.
“He will still play a central role in the leadership of our team, but in ‘Dog’ (McCalman) and ‘Tess’ (Tessmann) we have two players that our whole organisation believes in. They represent the ‘playing to win’ attitude we want to embody.”
The move towards a co-captaincy model follows in the footsteps of Super Rugby rivals the Brumbies who successfully used a similar model – with Stephen Moore and Christian Leali’ifano sharing the captaincy last season.
McCalman says he is thrilled to be given the opportunity to captain the club.
“I started my Super Rugby career here so to be given this responsibility is pretty special,” he explained.
“I think both Heath and I are very lucky to still have Matt [Hodgson] around as I know we’ll be leaning on his expertise and knowledge throughout the season.”
Tessmann also relishes the challenge ahead of him and says that he’s proud of the momentum the club has generated in the past few months.
“I’m really looking forward to this season and I can’t wait to be a big part of what we’re trying to do here in the West,” he said.
“It’s a little unconventional to have two captains but it works. Look at what we’re doing with the Own the Force initiative; that’s unconventional but it’s helped rally our rugby community together. Solving the challenges of Super Rugby in a uniquely West Australian way is what we want to build our success on.”