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"Right guy at the right time"

  
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9/12/2013


Qantas Wallabies head coach Ewen McKenzie says new Wallabies captain Ben Mowen is the ''right guy at the right time'' and his ''demanding'' leadership will deliver a Test victory on Saturday night when Australia take on Argentina in Perth.

28-year-old Mowen, who only made his Test debut earlier this year against the British & Irish Lions, has been given the task of resurrecting the Wallabies' Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship campaign.

As someone who knows Mowen better than most, leading Rugby journalist Chris Dutton, writes in today’s Canberra Times: “It's a remarkable turnaround from the player, who was on the outer with the Waratahs in 2011 and appeared unlikely to ever play for Australia.”

McKenzie clearly agrees, telling the media in Perth yesterday: ''There would have been a time when Ben thought he was going nowhere, that he was just treading water in Australian rugby."

''Things change. He's got his own style of leadership, he's very definite about things. Some of those things will give us an outcome. He's the right guy at the right time.''

It’s been an incredible transformation for Mowen since he joined the Brumbies at the start 2012 after his career had stalled at the Waratahs, where he was deemed surplus to requirements.

The former Waratahs and Queensland Reds loose forward has found his feet at the Brumbies where coach Jake White made him captain, to some controversy, when he arrived.

But the move was an undoubted success as Mowen led his team into the Super Rugby Final last month and the mobile No.8 was rewarded with his Test debut in June against the Lions.

The Test captaincy is even more stunning when you consider that at the start of this season, seemingly on the outer with then Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, Mowen contemplated leaving Australian Rugby to sign a lucrative contract in Japan.

Thankfully he decided to stay to chase his Wallabies dream and it is paying dividends after he has started in all six of the Wallabies Tests in 2013.

For his part Mowen described the honour of becoming the Wallabies’ 80th Test Captain as "Massive. It's obviously the highest honour you can receive in Australian rugby. I feel very privileged," he said.

"The captaincy at the Brumbies the past two years is experience that helps greatly with my comfort level. I'm naturally a talker...but you still have to pick your moments as a captain.

Mowen, known for his tactical nous and calmness under pressure, had clear ideas how he wanted to guide the team.

"I guess my style is a tactical type of leadership”, he explained. “I see my main role as bringing clarity to the group around playing style and strategies and navigating our way through the game so we stick to it. With heads in the right place, we can have a huge result this weekend."

Mowen’s Brumbies team mate Nic White, who takes over at scrum half for the benched Will Genia, said Mowen ''sets high standards, and if you don't meet them he gets pretty angry.”

''He says what he's going to do, then does it and expects everyone to follow."

''Ben's got a very clear idea of how things should be done and he gets people to buy into those things. It's easy to buy into because he makes it logical. He's passionate and you know everything he does is to get the best for the team.''

With Genia among the reserves and regular captain James Horwill ruled out with a hamstring injury, the vice-captaincy duties will fall to “Mr Consistency” Adam Ashley-Cooper.

McKenzie told the media that the omission of Genia was about making ''hard decisions'' to try to get the Wallabies back on track after losing the first three matches of the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship.

The former Reds and Waratahs head coach said Genia had already reacted positively to the decision, as McKenzie expected he would.

''Will has responded already” said McKenzie, “It's been a difficult week for him but he's out there working hard … ultimately we'll get an outcome on both fronts - find a new Test standard player and Will will push himself to find that world-class form.''

“We know he's a world-class player, he just has to find a couple of per cent there.”

“World-class players are that way for a reason - they're super competitive, so he'll accept the competition and then do something about it. We have to keep looking for things to spark the team up to get an outcome. We're not in the business of hoping things get better.''

White’s elevation to the starting line up is one of four changes to the 23-man squad that loss to the Springboks.

Fellow Brumbies prop Ben Alexander comes in at tight-head prop for Sekope Kepu and Sitaleki Timani has been added to the bench for the unlucky Liam Gill, who drops out of the 23.

The rugged NSW lock has been called in to the squad to add some power as the Wallabies were out-muscled last weekend by the physical South Africans.

Another Brumbies star, young outside back Tevita Kuridrani is also back on the reserves list in place of Brumbies team mate Jesse Mogg who will not take part this weekend.

To get your tickets to see Ben Mowen lead the Wallabies to victory against the Pumas in Perth this Saturday night CLICK HERE