Star Wallaby forward David Pocock has become just the second full-time captain of the Western Force.
He will lead the franchise this season, after being elevated to the top job by coach Richard Graham.
Pocock will take the reins from inaugural skipper Nathan Sharpe, who superbly served the side in its first six seasons. Sharpe has given his full endorsement to Pocock to guide the franchise into a new era.
The transition from Sharpe to Pocock will allow the veteran lock to remain a key sounding board for the 23-year-old who has served as an understudy in the position of vice-captain for the past two seasons.
After joining the Super Rugby ranks as a teenager in 2006, the debut season of the Western Force, Pocock's rapid rise has continued unabated and he has stamped himself as a game changing player of utmost integrity both on and off the field.
The standout No.7 was stand-in captain for the final match of 2011 after Sharpe was ruled out with injury and led the Western Force to victory against the Rebels in Victoria. He also showed his leadership credentials when he skippered the Wallabies to a convincing win against the Barbarians at Twickenham last November.
"I think it's a huge honour to captain a side, particularly one that I've been involved with for quite a while now. It's a big challenge but exciting at the same time and I'm looking forward to be given the opportunity to further contribute to the team," Pocock said.
"I see being a leader first and foremost as leading by your actions, however I know that there is a lot more to it and that's all part of the learning experience. I feel very fortunate to have been able to watch and learn from someone like Sharpie. He has had a huge influence on me.
"One of the really exciting things about taking on the role now is that Sharpie is still involved and I can continue to look to him for advice. Having his experience around will be invaluable," Pocock added.
"In a team environment it's not just one person that shoulders all the load, we've got quite a few guys that lead by their actions, I think the more people we can get like that in the team the better we'll be going forward."
Sharpe said Pocock was the ideal candidate to take the franchise forward and was certain the back row forward would embrace the added leadership responsibilities and provide inspiration to players both young and old.
"The level of David's performances for the Western Force has been exceptional and I think that will also prove to be the case as he applies himself to the role as captain," Sharpe said.
"I've seen him grow from a talented kid who joined the franchise straight out of school to become a game breaking player in both Super Rugby and for the Wallabies. David is a remarkable young man and a good friend, I will help him in any way that I can now and into the future.
"Serving as the inaugural captain at the Western Force has been a great honour in my career. It's the right time for a change, both for the franchise and me personally," said Sharpe.
Western Force Coach Richard Graham said Pocock had earned the respect of team mates and everyone at the franchise through his professional dedication and approach to preparation and performance, and was thoroughly deserving of the position of captain.
Graham acknowledged Sharpe's significant contribution and leadership while the Western Force established itself in the world's toughest provincial competition and said the big lock would continue to play a key role at the club.
"David aspires to be the best player in the world in his position and he holds himself to very high standards. He exhibits all the attributes you'd want to see in a leader and will be a strong character in representing the Western Force on and off the field," Graham said.
"Nathan has done a wonderful job leading and representing the team. Sharpie has always put the team first and we will continue to utilise his experience to develop the next generation of leaders at the club."
Pocock's performances has earned nominations in the IRB ‘Player of the Year' award in the past two seasons while in 2010 he took home the John Eales Medal and RUPA Medal for Excellence. He has played 55 times for the Western Force and is the fifth most capped player in franchise history.
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