Queensland Rugby Union have announced that prop James Slipper will captain the Reds for the 2015 Super Rugby season.
He will be supported in the role by two new vice-captains in Reds and Wallabies lock Rob Simmons and recent signing Karmichael Hunt.
Slipper takes over the role with the blessing of incumbent captain James Horwill, who after a number of discussions agreed the best long-term outcome for the future success of the Reds was to step down and allow the growth of the leadership within the team.
In 2014, Slipper was recognised by his Queensland team-mates as the Pilecki Medal winner for Players’ Player of the Year and also claimed the Rugby Union Players’ Association Medal for Excellence – which is voted on by all Super Rugby players.
He was also vice-captain of the Wallabies throughout the 2014 Test season and said he was honoured to be given the title of Reds skipper.
“I’m incredibly humbled by this decision. I take great pride in playing for Queensland, so to be named captain is a great honour,” Slipper said.
“James has been a great captain and I know he will be a great mentor to me in my first season as skipper of the Reds. He gives everything for Queensland and he deserves to go out on the right note – so I’ll do everything I can to make sure that happens.”
Queensland Rugby CEO Jim Carmichael said: “This is a very deliberate and considered decision to ensure the best outcomes for the Reds and Queensland Rugby in 2015 and beyond.
“James has been a wonderful captain for Queensland and we all concluded it is important he is capable of delivering the best he can for the Reds during his last season. It is also important he helps to mentor and transition James Slipper and his vice captains as they grow into their roles.
“Queensland Rugby has been very public that the Reds will not shy away from expectations. Everything we have done and continue to do in the lead up to the 2015 season has shown a clear intent to continually evolve and be accountable.”
Reds head coach Richard Graham commended Horwill for his commitment to the club as it prepared to usher in a new generation of leaders.
“Everyone knows James Horwill is a passionate Queenslander who plays with an incredible amount of pride. It is important that he helps with this transition and I have no doubts he will provide a wealth of support to James Slipper, who has proven with his actions both on and off the field he will be a strong leader for this team,” Graham said.
“In appointing two new vice-captains, we are continuing to expand the leadership base within our group. Rob understands the strategic side of the game well and deserves an opportunity to be part of the leadership group. Having an official title will provide some more formal opportunities for him to lead within the team.
“While Karmichael is new to the team, he has shown throughout his career and during Reds pre-season that his standards and work ethic will drive the group to higher expectations.
“As with any team, it is important that we continue to provide opportunities for players to grow – and that includes in their ability to lead.
“All of these guys have been appointed because of what I believe they can bring to the leadership role, but they are by no means the only leaders within our group.
“We are also fortunate to have four players in our squad who have had the honour of representing Queensland more than 100 times in their careers. Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Greg Holmes and James Horwill, all very experienced players, have held leadership roles within the Reds at various times. They are already leaders within this group so they don’t need to carry a formal title.
“Will has been an integral part of the formal leadership team over the past number of seasons. He has made an outstanding contribution as a captain and vice-captain and will continue to lead as an experienced player and through his role with the team.”
Horwill leaves the role as the most-capped captain in the state’s history – having led the Reds on 69 occasions over the course of his eight-year tenure as skipper.
“While I love captaining Queensland, I think it’s the best thing for the team to allow the leaders within the group to grow. All the players who have been selected have my 100% support and I’m excited to see what they can do not only this season, but for many years to come,” Horwill said.