Slipper still skipper

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Queensland Reds coach Nick Stiles has backed James Slipper to lead the Reds back to the top of Australian rugby by naming him as captain for the third straight season.

There had been some conjecture as to whether Slipper would retain the job with the return of Stephen Moore and Quade Cooper to Ballymore but in recent weeks it had become clear that the 27-year-old would retain the captaincy.

He will draw on the expertise of Cooper and More, along with star centre Samu Kerevi and prop Sam Talakai, who form a four-man leadership group.New Reds teammates, Stephen Moore and James Slipper, test each other's speed at Wallabies training. Photo: Getty ImagesSlipper and Stiles both made it clear they expected leadership to be a group effort as the Reds try to scale the Australian Conference after three years without finals football.

"To be honest, I've been thinking about this season since the last one ended," he said.

"I want Queensland Rugby to be strong, that's what motivates me.

"Having the support of the leadership group is going to be massive.

"Not only do they add experience, but they're strong leaders as well."Samu Kerevi has shown plenty of leadership potential in his time at the Reds. Photo: Getty ImagesStiles hopes the addition of Kerevi and Talakai to the leadership group will allow the pair to naturally develop as leaders within the squad.

"We've chosen this model of leadership group after doing a lot of work on understanding what motivates this team and how we can get the best out of them," he said.

"It's also important to note that while we've named a group of leaders, we expect everyone in the squad to contribute to leadership in some form.

"We're creating an environment where people can be comfortable leading in their area of strength."