Rob Simmons has been named interim captain of the Reds, while James Slipper recovers from shoulder surgery.Simmons served as sole vice-captain in 2015 and was the obvious candidate to lead the side in Slipper’s absence.
A number of potential successors have been touted in recent months but with Slipper’s shoulder rehabilitation ahead of schedule, the franchise opted for an interim solution in their vice-captain.
The Wallabies lock is one of the most experienced members of the Reds squad but this will be his first time captaining the side.Simmons said he was grateful for the opportunity to lead the Reds for the start of the 2016 season but that his focus was on the team.
“It’s an honour and a proud moment in my life. I’m grateful for the opportunity, but James is still our captain and I know he’ll be offering the team plenty of leadership and support from the sidelines,” he said.
“It’s not really about me, or James, it’s about the team and the culture we want to build here and that’s something everyone is contributing to.”
Slipper endorsed his deputy’s credentials, although he expressed his disappointment at missing the start of the season.
“It’s obviously disappointing that I won’t be out there at the start of the season, but not only myself but the whole team has a lot of confidence in Rob, he’s been at the Reds a long time and he has a genuine love for Queensland," he said.
“He’s a well-grounded person and he knows the game well, it’s a great opportunity for him and right reward for the hard work he puts in on and off field.”
Reds coach Richard Graham said the decision was made with continuity in mind.
“James and Rob are two of our more experienced players, they’re respected by their peers and are incredibly passionate and committed to the Queensland cause,” he said.
“They’ve both experienced leadership roles here at the Reds and also at the Wallabies in the last 12 months, with James part of the formal leadership group at the World Cup and Rob leading the lineout.”