Queensland Reds head coach Nick Stiles has retained seasoned prop James Slipper as captain of the side, while also naming a four-man leadership group to support him in the role.
Slipper will be supported by returning Reds veterans Quade Cooper and Stephen Moore, as well as Samu Kerevi and Sam Talakai.
The 2017 season will be Slipper’s third in charge of the Reds, after taking over from James Horwill ahead of the 2015 season. The 27-year-old has represented Queensland 91 times and earned 86 Tests for the Wallabies, including one as captain in 2015.
Slipper said it was a ‘huge honour’ to continue to lead his state, but that it would be a group effort in 2017.
“I’ve always enjoyed leading my state. It’s been a challenging role, but I’m really looking forward to the 2017 season. We’ve grown so much as a group over the last two years and we’re massively motivated to turn our fortunes around,” Slipper told the Reds website.
“To be honest, I’ve been thinking about this season since the last one ended. I want Queensland Rugby to be strong, that’s what motivates me.
“Having the support of the leadership group is going to be massive. Not only do they add experience, but they’re strong leaders as well.”
In naming the five-man team to lead the side in 2017, Stiles said it was important to have a balance of qualities in the group he chose.
“James has done an outstanding job as skipper to this point, particularly last year under difficult circumstances,” Stiles said.
“When it came to approaching the leadership for this season we were conscious of wanting to provide a strong base of support not just for him, but for the whole squad.
“James, Stephen (Moore), Quade (Cooper), Samu (Kerevi) and Sam (Talakai) all bring different leadership strengths to the role.
“We’ve chosen this model of leadership group after doing a lot of work on understanding what motivates this team and how we can get the best out of them.
“We’ve learnt from previous experience that we weren’t aggressive enough in developing a number of leaders within the group and this model allows us to do that.
“It’s also important to note that while we’ve named a group of leaders, we expect everyone in the squad to contribute to leadership in some form. We’re creating an environment where people can be comfortable leading in their area of strength.
“Hopefully this sets us up for the progression and development of many leaders within the team.”