Wallaby back-row Scott Higginbotham is revelling in his new role as 2014 captain of Melbourne-based franchise, the Rebels.
Renowned for his physicality in the loose, Higginbotham feels he is maturing as a player and a man thanks to the captaincy.
''It's a contact sport," Higginbotham told the Canberra Times.
"There's blokes out there trying to hurt you. You go into a ruck and have some bloke strangle you and try and take you out; there's hands around your face, there's swinging elbows, all this stuff goes on. You can't hide any of it so it's all just part of the game.
''I don't think I was anything like that last year. Being captain and everything like that I'm a lot more focused on the game and not just doing my own thing out there, which is good.
''I've always said you get a bunch of young guys and you give them experience year after year and it just builds. It's really fun to be the older guy coming into that rather than the younger guy coming up.''
Higginbotham's new-found responsibility came as no surprise to Wallaby and Reds talisman, Will Genia.
''I had a couple of conversations with Scotty when he was at the Reds about him wanting to take on more of a leadership role, whether it be with a formal title or whatever else,'' said Genia.
''[One] of the things I said to him was that we already saw him as a leader ... people follow him because he's someone that commands respect and has a resonance about him.''