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Ben Hornby named Dragons captain

05/03/2009 06:10:51 PM Comments (0)

Wayne Bennett has compared Ben Hornby to Test skipper Darren Lockyer in promoting the St George Illawarra utility to the captaincy of the NRL club for 2009.

The new Dragons coach said Hornby possessed the personality required to be a strong leader as the club enters a new era, and revealed he will start the year in the key position of halfback.

"I have had some excellent ones (captains) and I know they need to be calm under pressure and I believe he is calm under pressure," said Bennett.

"He is not a panic merchant and not a big mouth.

"It's an important role of leadership in my eyes and he has the similar type of personality to Darren Lockyer - introverted, like the coach."

Hornby was awarded the captaincy despite being sidelined for the pre-season and missing all the club's trial matches with a shoulder injury.

It is not the first time Hornby has been named skipper of the Dragons, the utility player sharing the duties with Jason Ryles and Mark Gasnier in 2007.

Gasnier was named sole captain last year, with Hornby deputising in his absence.

But with Gasnier and Ryles departing in the off-season Bennett needed to find a skipper to lead the club into a new era.

Bennett said he took a long time deliberating over his captaincy choice, his decision a combination of training behaviour, respect among teammates and observations he made while still coaching the Brisbane Broncos last year.

"Although Ben has not been able to fully participate in all of the pre-season training due to injury, his interaction in and around training has convinced me that he is the right person for the job," said Bennett.

"I also kept an eye on things when he fulfilled this role last year and I like his calm and balanced approach to things."

Hornby resumed full contact training three weeks ago and will make his 2009 debut wearing the No.7 jumper when the Dragons travel to Melbourne to face the Storm to kick off the NRL season next Friday.

"Justin Poore and Michael Weyman have been running at me at training and I cannot picture too many blokes out there being bigger or stronger than them," said Hornby about his troubled shoulder.

Hornby said he was happy to be starting the year in the halfback hotseat, and will most likely play alongside Jamie Soward with new recruit Mathew Head to either come off the bench or play in the NSW Cup.

"I think that is where I have played the last two years and that is where I am the most comfortable at the moment," said Hornby.

"I feel that is going to be the best starting combination we have come up with for the first few rounds.

"I'm happy to play there, I enjoy playing there and I'm looking forward to it."

Hornby said he was honoured to lead the Dragons into the new era under Bennett.

"It is obviously a huge honour and privilege to lead the boys this year," said Hornby.

"I have great respect for the history and traditions of this club.

"Hopefully it can be a successful year for us."

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