Rob Horne’s elevation into the Wallabies vice-captaincy was one that flew under the radar on Thursday, but that probably fits fine for a man Michael Cheika sees as somewhat of a quiet achiever.
The Wallabies winger has been one of the more reliable Test inclusions in recent seasons and Cheika said he was an obvious choice to put into the leadership team, the embodiment of the team’s identity.
Horne has rejected overtures from overseas clubs and other sports through his career and Cheika said that part of his personality was a key factor in promoting him.
"I think one big part of this team’s identity is about being loyal,” he said.
“Loyalty to each other and then to the jersey when you own it for that little period of time and Rob Horne is a classic case.
“I wouldn’t say he’s getting rewarded for that. I just think he lives what we’ve created as our identity.
“He lives it every day and he’ll have 80 minutes on Saturday to show that in full.”
Cheika said Horne was not dissimilar to his predecessor, Adam Ashley-Cooper who is currently playing in France.
“Obviously last year we would’ve had Adam Ashley-Cooper in that role so I suppose there’s a bit of like for like,” he said.
“(He’s) the more quieter guy who’s focusing on the detail but leading his backline. He’s a defensive leader for us as well.
“Part of our role is to develop new leaders in the team and because at the end of the day that’s their domain is to really run the team when it counts and when the match heat is on.”
Cheika said Horne was taken aback with the decision but the Wallabies mentor had total confidence he would take on the added responsibility in his stride.
“I think Rob’s got a very cool head under pressure and he’s a very, very committed and a passionate Australian,” he said.
“He was a bit surprised when I asked him about it but he accepted with both hands.
“I think he’ll do himself proud in that role.
“It won’t change anything in his game, just he’ll know when it’s time to take responsibility for all of the stuff, Not just the good stuff that happens on Saturday but the bad stuff.
“ You own it all as a leader and take your team through it.”