Super Rugby
Dennis stunned by Waratahs captaincy
February 6, 2013
Waratahs flanker Dave Dennis prepares to pass, Waratahs training session, Moore Park, Sydney, Australia, May 12, 2011
Dave Dennis said he would lead by his actions rather than words in his new role as captain. © Getty Images
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Dave Dennis was shocked when Michael Cheika appointed him as Waratahs captain just 20 minutes prior to the season launch.

Cheika had not made up his mind on the captaincy as the full squad boarded the team bus en route to the launch, but the former Randwick, Pad ova, Leinster and State Fran├žois coach eventually tapped Dennis on the shoulder.

"It was a bit of a surprise but something I'm extremely proud of," Dennis said of the captaincy.

"He [Cheika] goes about things a bit differently but it's been received well so it's good. I'm just really proud and honoured to get this opportunity. I was born and bred in NSW, and I love this state and I love this club so it's just a good feeling. It means a lot to me, it means a lot to me to play for the team let alone to have the opportunity to captain such a good bunch of blokes."

Cheika said of the bizarre timing of his decision: "What I wanted to do is make sure I took enough time to assess who would be the leader of the team. It's a very, very important decision, not just for this year but for going forward.

"Dave Dennis has come through the Sydney club ranks; he's from the west of Sydney; he's earned his stripes through club football; he accessed state football, earned his stripes there and at Test level; and he's earned the right to lead his state."

The Waratahs coach is not a believer in leadership groups, but he will allow Dennis to appoint his own vice-captains.

The 27-year-old Wallabies flanker said he would lead by his actions rather than words, and would lean on his experienced team-mates for assistance throughout the season.

"I'll use other guys around me," he said.

"It won't just be about me talking. I'll use the experience of senior guys as well and just try and lead from the front on and off the field. I've had a little bit of experience in a leadership role (with Sydney University) but I'll still develop throughout the course of the year and it won't just be about what I think is right. I'll use the advice of past captains like Phil Waugh and also current senior players like Benn Robinson who had a bit of experience last year."

Waugh, who played alongside Dennis, endorsed the blindside flanker's appointment.

"He's very passionate, he's very loyal and you can just see how hard he's worked to get back after two pretty bad knee injuries," Waugh said.

"He works hard, he's certainly got the respect of all the players and he's got that rare ability to connect with everyone in the squad, which is such an important part of being captain. So I think it's a great choice."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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