Springbok No.8 Pierre Spies has been appointed captain of the three-time champion Bulls for the 2012 Super Rugby season.
He has beaten off the challenge of other senior players like Wynand Olivier, who was named vice-captain, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dewald Potgieter and Wilhelm Steenkamp.
Ralepelle and Potgieter both captained the Springboks in a tour match and Steenkamp has captained the Blue Bulls in Currie Cup and Cheetahs in Super Rugby before.
Gerrit-Jan van Velze, CJ Stander and Arno Botha are all former captains of the South African Under-20 team that played in the Junior World Cup tournament.
It will be a first for Spies to lead the Bulls. He takes over from the now retired Victor Matfield, who led the side in Super Rugby for a record 75 times.
Spies, who’s dad (Pierre snr) also played for the Blue Bulls, admits that the captaincy is a massive honour.
"It was not such a big surprise though, as I had it in the back of my mind that I could be asked to lead the team when Victor retired. I was privileged in my career at the Bulls and the Springboks to play with great captains and I could certainly learn a lot from them."
Spies, who made his Super Rugby debut in 2005 and has played for the Bulls 72 times, said he will try and lead from the front.
"I would like to try and do that. I believe a captain should lead from the front and I hope that will be something that I can do successfully. There are huge challenges ahead, but we are all looking forward to that. This group is younger than in previous years, but we have the same goals as those squads and that is to win the competition."
Olivier, who was the regular vice-captain during the recent Currie Cup campaign, is also keen on his role.
"I like that responsibility. Anyone who wants to write off the Bulls because we lost players, do so at their own peril. I think we have a squad that can with the competition again. There are new faces, so there will be a challenge to make sure all share the same vision, but I see no problems in that. We have a great management team and coaching staff and they will get everyone to pull in the same direction."
Incidentally, both Spies en Olivier attended Afrikaans Hoër Seunskool (Affies) and represented the Blue Bulls at schools level first before going on to represent the union at junior and senior level.
* Meanwhile it has been revealed that Olivier has undergone surgery to repair a torn bicep muscle and will be sidelined for two months.
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