Many critics will frown on the appointment of Pierre Spies as Bulls captain, but coach Frans Ludeke believes he is the right fit for the team.
Spies, who was appointed as captain of the three-times champion Bulls for the 2012 Super Rugby season on Wednesday, beat off the challenges of other senior players like centre Wynand Olivier - who was named vice-captain - and fellow forwards Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dewald Potgieter and Wilhelm Steenkamp.
Hooker Ralepelle and loose forward Potgieter have both captained the Springboks in a tour match and Steenkamp - who will rejoin the Bulls after a spell in Bloemfontein - has previously captained the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup and the Cheetahs in the 2011 Super Rugby season.
Gerrit-Jan van Velze, CJ Stander and Arno Botha are all former South African Under-20 captains, having captained the Baby Boks in 2008, 2010 and 2011, respectively.
However, Ludeke told this website that it was an "easy" decision to appoint Spies.
The 26-year-old No.8, who has 72 Super Rugby and 47 Test caps to his credit, is a player who "leads from the front".
"It wasn't a short-term process through which we arrived at this decision," Ludeke told this website.
"We've had a leadership group for the past four years at the Bulls and Pierre [Spies] was always part of that group. For me it was a very easy decision."
The Bulls coach added that there are many other good leaders who will support Spies - players who were good leaders at junior level and captained teams with success.
Asked about the qualities in Spies that makes him stand out as a leader, Ludeke said there are many qualities that make a leader and not everybody has all those qualities.
"You have to have a combination of characteristics that make you unique and effective for the task at hand," he said, adding: "However, the one aspect that stands out for me of Pierre is that he leads by example.
"Look at him on the field, how he plays and how committed he is, someone who never gives up and is mentally very tough.
"He has a good tactical understanding of the game and can make good decisions and gives direction to the team. He also has an influence on the team - you want people to listen to the captain and he does, especially the young players.
"Also, his lifestyle and how he carries himself."
The coach said it is vital that the player who is going to captain the team knows the systems.
"Pierre has come a long way, since his Under-19 days he has been involved at the senior team."
Ludeke added that Spies has never had the opportunity to prove his leadership credentials, despite his strong standing in the team.
"He always played with Victor [Matfield] in the Bok squad, with the other guys staying behind and the younger guys then ended up taking up the leading [captaincy] role.
"That is why he has never been seen in this role.
"However, for me it was an easy choice and I know he will do a good job."
Asked about Ralepelle, whom many experts expected to get the captaincy both at the Bulls and Boks - Ludeke said the hooker still has an important role to play in the team.
"A as I have said before, any leader will only succeed if he has good leaders around him," Ludeke said, adding: "If you look at the guys around him, who have good leadership qualities, Chiliboy is right up there in that aspect.
"He [Ralepelle] is a player who proved himself at junior level, who won junior world championships. He is definitely in our leadership group and he has a big role to play in the team, along with the other guys.
"I do rate him [Ralepelle] very highly as a leader and he has been playing a leadership role in our system for a long time."
By Jan de Koning
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