Waratahs bank on Elsom

2012-01-30 07:21

Sydney - Rocky Elsom will be unveiled as the captain of the Waratahs on Tuesday, capping off a spectacular return to the NSW franchise where he started his Super Rugby career and first captained the side in 2007.

New coach Michael Foley and his assistants have spent the past month in discussions with senior players to find the perfect replacement for retired skipper Phil Waugh. And after narrowing down what it was the players expected and wanted from a captain, Elsom emerged as the clear choice.

With Waugh having captained the side for the past five years, most Waratahs players only knew him as the captain, leading Foley to call on his eight-man leadership group and senior players to help elect a new skipper.

Dan Vickerman had been touted as a possible option given his experience and composure but Elsom's history as Wallabies captain and his existing relationships with much of the team helped him get the nod.

Although Elsom was replaced as Wallabies skipper in favour of James Horwill for the World Cup, after three years at the helm, the 28-year-old was revered by teammates. His seemingly reluctant relationship with the media and at player appearances was understood to have had a serious part to play in his demotion from Wallabies skipper, but on-field, players consider him the ultimate leader.

And psychologists do, too.

Elsom was selected as Wallabies captain in 2009 following a long and stringent process by the Australian Rugby Union, including external psychoanalysis tests which confirmed Elsom was the best man for the job.

In May last year, Wallabies and new Waratahs teammate Drew Mitchell revealed just how stringent the selection process was for the Wallabies' top job and why many players inside the Australian camp believed Elsom was the best choice.

''A lot of work goes in to nominating a captain - it's not only having the respect of the players and endorsements of those around you, it's also how you are positioned to make decisions at crucial times and in pressure situations,'' Mitchell said, just months before an injury-hit Elsom was demoted.

''We [Wallabies] did do some psychoanalysis stuff and there are certainly no right or wrong answers in those things, but they certainly give a clear indication of those who are well positioned to lead. And Rocky is the best placed to lead in terms of the feedback we got from that.

''When he speaks, everyone listens and everyone respects his opinion and the way he goes about communicating to the team. He's well received and blokes actually try to implement the things that he says. From being in the Wallaby environment, across the board Rocky has the support and backing of everyone. And that's the key to a good captain. We want to follow him.''

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