Slipper: I've learnt to be myself

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

To say James Slipper's first two years in charge of the Reds have been a baptism of fire would be nothing short of a significant understatement.

Since 2015, he has led the team to just seven wins from 31 matches, endured Richard Graham's sacking and been forced to front up as the face of stability while Nick Stiles and Matt O'Connor ran the show as co-interim head coaches last year.

Speaking to media today alongside coach Stiles at the announcement that his reign as captain will continue in 2017, Slipper was the first to admit the last two years had taken a serious toll."It's been a tough couple of years and it was tough for a lot of people, not just myself," he said.

 

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"The staff, the coaches, the players, it's all been tough so for us we are just looking forward now and we are excited about 2017 and I've pretty much put to bed what has happened in the past so I'm pretty keen to get on with it and lead from the front."

Slipper said he had grown both on and off field since taking the captaincy on.

"For me it was just about being myself and trying to lead by example - that's basically what I learnt the most from last year.

"I learnt to be myself a lot, there were a lot of things happening outside the team that I couldn't control so for me, I worried about what I could control and that was the players that I had and the coaching staff that were in the same boat."Nick Stiles has shown great faith in James Slipper. Photo: rugby.com.au/Stu WalmsleyStiles has shown great faith in Slipper and said the amount of growth he had seen in the 27-year-old never left him with any doubt as to who the best man for the job was.

"There are qualities in a leader that you need which are crucial for success and those qualities James has and has displayed for years now playing for Queensland," he said.

"You don't get tougher times than what we've had as a leader in the last 12 months.

"Now, to see him grow in that role last year in particular and then to be able to add in some very senior players with Stephen Moore, George Smith, of the likes, will give the leadership boys even more strength.

"I've been really open and honest about how I thought James went last year as a leader and I can see him growing to go on and be an even stronger leader with people like the current Wallabies captain here supporting him."

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