We are looking to step up next season
Wallabies loose forward Scott Higginbotham has been named as the Melbourne Rebels captain for the 2014 Super Rugby season.
After filling in for injured former Rebels skipper Gareth Delve on numerous occasions throughout 2013, the decision appeared a near formality, however with a new head coach and CEO at the franchise the Rebels took their time to ensure the decision made was the correct one.
"Scott's leadership credentials are there for all to see," Rebels' head coach Tony McGahan said. "His ability to inspire his teammates on the field, and to communicate clearly and effectively with match officials, meant that it was always going to be hard for any of his teammates to usurp him into the captaincy role.
"In saying that, I wanted to observe Scott during the club's pre-season before making such a crucial recommendation to (CEO) Rob Clarke and the Board. Scott was, until recently part of the rehab group however his dedication to his training, alongside great support from the club's physiotherapy and rehabilitation staff, has seen him re-join the main squad well ahead of schedule.
"Scott's efforts to motivate and encourage his teammates, as well as to demand excellence from them, were unaffected by his inability to join the main squad for training. I have certainly seen enough from Scott since coming to the club, as well as through working alongside him previously for the national side, to believe he is the man to lead this club to success in the immediate future.
"I certainly don't believe that Scott's captaincy skill set is the finished article just yet. The best thing about this early appointment is that it allows Scott to continue to grow into the role, and to lead by example both on and off the field," he explained.
Higginbotham, who has 23 Test caps to his name and exercised a clause in his Rebels contract to stay until at least the end of the 2015 season, was proud to lead the club's push forward as they look to build on small improvements in their first three years of existence.
"It's a huge honour to be named as captain of a club for the first time in my career," Higginbotham said. "I look forward to repaying the faith of the coaching staff and the support of our members by leading this young and talented group of guys to success.
"I love leading the boys onto AAMI Park and it's great to see how they have taken to this pre-season in such a professional and positive way. It's been our toughest ever I and I can't wait for the 2014 Super Rugby season to begin.
"We are looking to step up next season, not just as 23 Rebels on the field, but also as a code in Victoria. The Rebels now truly belong to the Victorian Rugby Community and the aim is to have a world class rugby program here in Melbourne and build on strong foundations."