Scotland skipper Jamie Ritchie has hailed former captain Stuart Hogg after the full-back backed the flanker to succeed in the role.
The Edinburgh back-row will lead Gregor Townsend’s men for the first time in their clash against Australia at Murrayfield on Saturday.
After the announcement, Hogg took time to congratulate Ritchie via social media, despite the personal disappointment of being removed from the captaincy position.
“It means a lot,” Ritchie said. “I have a huge amount of respect for Hoggy as a man and a rugby player and it’s been a privilege to support him over the last three years as part of his leadership group.
“He was one of the first guys to congratulate me. Gregor told him I was going to be captain before he told me. When Gregor told me, Hoggy sent me a nice message saying that he backed me and stuff like that, and that meant a lot.”
Ritchie will look to lead in his own way but says that there are elements of Hogg’s captaincy he will take into the Autumn Nations Series.
“The things I’ll take from Hoggy are his passion – he’s a very passionate Scotsman – and the way he used the group around him,” the flanker said.
“There would be days when you wouldn’t necessarily hear him speak a lot because he’d use the leaders around him, and that’s something I’ll look to take on as well.”
Ritchie was told by Townsend that he was one of the candidates for the captaincy role prior to the announcement, but still described the news as “surreal.”
“We’d had a meeting a couple of weeks prior about some leadership stuff and he let me know I was in the mix, then he dropped the news last week,” he said.
“It’s quite surreal. It’s hard to put into words how it feels. It’s a huge honour for me and my family, they’re really proud of me. I’m really excited about the opportunity to take it forward.
“For me, as a kid, you don’t dream about being captain. You dream about playing for Scotland, you dream about running out at Murrayfield.
“But since my career has progressed and leadership has become a bigger part of it, it’s been something that’s been in the back of my head in that if I was given the opportunity, I’d love to do it.”
Back after hamstring injury
Despite being Scotland’s new skipper, Ritchie has not played for the national team since their Six Nations clash with England in February after injuring his hamstring in that encounter.
“It’s been a while, so I’m excited to get back out there at BT Murrayfield,” he said. “It was tough having to watch the boys from the sidelines (in the Six Nations and summer tour) but I knew with the injury I had I couldn’t offer anything so I was excited to see some of the other guys get opportunities.
“I was watching all the games and I was lucky to go with the guys to Rome and enjoyed the win over there.”