The Melbourne Rebels have opted for youth over experience in handing halfback Nic Stirzaker the captaincy for the 2016 Super Rugby season.
Ear-marked as a future Wallaby, Rebels coach Tony McGahan has opted for the 24-year-old as a long-term skipper following the departure of Scott Higginbotham to Japan.
Stirzaker has played 37 Super Rugby games for Melbourne since making his debut in 2012.
He also captained their 2014 Melbourne Rising team, which went through the competition undefeated before losing the semi-final.
McGahan said Stirzaker was a stand-out choice, despite the wealth of experience with current Wallabies Sean McMahon and James Hanson as well as former Test players Mike Harris, Tamati Ellison and Adam Thomson in the squad.
“We’re delighted to name a long-term captain,” McGahan said.
“With the way that Nic has carried himself ever since he’s come into the club with regard to his work ethic and his competitive nature and more importantly where he’s at with his game, we have a lot of faith in what Nic’s going to deliver.”
Stirzaker missed their final trial match in Melbourne on Thursday night when they thrashed Samoa 85-0, scoring 13 tries.
He suffered a setback following shoulder surgery last year, but is confident he will be fit for their opening match against the Western Force in Perth next Saturday.