McCalman, Tessmann to co-captain Western Force

Sun, 11/12/2016, 07:29 pm
by AAP
The man they call 'Dog' Ben McCalman to lead the Force on the filed in 2017. Photo: ARU Media/Stuart Warmsley
The man they call 'Dog' Ben McCalman to lead the Force on the filed in 2017. Photo: ARU Media/Stuart Warmsley

Wallabies back rower Ben McCalman and hooker Heath Tessmann are the new co-captains of the Western Force after Matt Hodgson decided to stand down from the role.

Hodgson announced in October he would play on for the Force in 2017 but hand over the captaincy. McCalman always loomed as Hodgson's natural successor.

But the appointment of Tessmann will come as somewhat of a surprise to many rugby fans.

Tessmann faces a major fight just to earn a starting berth this season following the signing of Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau.
Heath Tessman says the Spirit can light the way for the Force. Photo: Getty ImagesBut coach Dave Wessels said Tessmann's exemplary leadership qualities were simply too hard to ignore.

"Dog (McCalman) will be our on-field tactical or strategic captain and Heath is our off-field standards captain.

"Heath's in charge of the environment and Dog's in charge of the rugby.

"I'm not of the view that Heath's position is guaranteed in the team. He recognises that. He's prepared to fight hard for that.

"I don't think that stops his ability to lead off the field. He's a highly respected player within our group."

Wessels paid tribute to 35-year-old Hodgson, who was the heartbeat of the Force during his four-year stint as captain.
Matt Hodgson may play into 2017. Photo: Getty Images"It's a very big gesture by Matt. He cares very deeply about the club and he recognised it's not the title that's important, it's his contribution," Wessels said.

"He thinks that he can do a good job of guiding the next generation of leaders for the club.

"There'll be a lot of wisdom shared there by the fact Dog and Hodgo are friends.

"Dog will always feel comfortable asking Matt for advice on different things.

"That's why we've taken that step, as opposed to making this decision in a year's time when Hodgo's not around."

McCalman is set to be fit for the start of the season despite twice injuring his shoulder while on Wallabies duty.

"He was owed some leave, so he took that and it's taken a bit of a load off the scapula of his," Wessels said of the 28-year-old.

"He's running around now without a lot of the other aches and pains his body generally has, so he's feeling pretty good about that."

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