The Chiefs have stuck with their formula of co-captains after naming All Blacks Aaron Cruden and Sam Cane to share the load for this year’s Super Rugby championship.
Cruden has shared the role with Liam Messam for the past two seasons, with Messam and Craig Clarke having been co-captains in 2012 and 2013.
Veteran flanker Messam is absent this year, having committed himself to pursuing a sevens berth at the Rio Olympics.
It opens the door for openside specialist Cane, who was captain of the All Blacks against Namibia at the World Cup in England – becoming the fifth-youngest player to do so.
He and Cruden boast a combined 121 caps for the two-time champions and coach Dave Rennie sees their experience as ideal for leadership.
“We have had them both in mind for a long time. They are special characters and high-quality men,” Rennie said.
“When I spoke to them about doing the role, they were both excited and it’s a massive workload so sharing the job makes sense.”
Five-eighth Cruden, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Friday, had his 2015 Super Rugby campaign and subsequent World Cup hopes ruined by a serious knee injury suffered midway through last season.
He is looking forward to leading alongside his good friend.
“It’s going to be exciting obviously with a few new teams coming into the competition and a new group of players at the Chiefs,” he said.
“Hopefully, Sam and I can lead from the front and let our actions do the talking.”
Cane, 23, is entering his fifth season with the franchise and is promising to keep the lines of communication open with Cruden.
“One thing that will develop for us this year is being a bit more brutally honest with each other, saying things that the other person doesn’t want to hear.
“We both care about this team a lot.”
Don’t expect any excuses either from the Chiefs this season despite featuring a squad with a dozen players aged 21 or under.
Cruden believes they have the ability to repeat their winning campaigns of 2012 and 2013.
“We have high expectations of ourselves individually and collectively as a team and we want to bring a Super title back to the Chiefs’ region.”