Captaincy axing part of sport: Elsom - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Captaincy axing part of sport: Elsom

Darren Walton and Angela Habashy 18/08/2011 02:26:55 PM Comments (0)

A philosophical Rocky Elsom accepted his shock axing as Wallabies captain as part and parcel of professional sport.

After a slow start to the Test season following eight months out with leg injuries, Elsom was under pressure but he appeared to convince critics he was ready to captain Australia's Rugby World Cup campaign with a strong game in the weekend win over the Springboks in Durban.

But in a left-field decision that surprised even Elsom's teammates, coach Robbie Deans on Thursday handed Queensland's Super Rugby-winning skipper James Horwill the captaincy.

"It's the way it goes. I mean, it's in the nature of the sport; you're always up for selection," Elsom said.

The quietly-spoken flanker added "it's a very cut-throat industry", but said "disappointed" was not the right word to describe how he felt when Deans gave him the heads up after Saturday night's Tri Nations victory.

It was left to Deans to explain how the 28-year-old took his demotion.

"Obviously it wouldn't have been his preference," Deans said.

"But I guess it was made easier by his response. He simply said: 'Whatever's in the best interests of the team'.

"It just goes to show where his head is at. It was an impressive response and I think you'll see an impressive Rocky Elsom in the next few weeks."

Elsom was first appointed captain before the 2009 grand slam tour of the British Isles and Deans said giving him the tap on the shoulder was one of the more difficult parts of his coaching brief.

"You've got to do what you believe is right in the interests of the team," he said.

"He can now really concentrate on getting himself in the right shape without having any peripheral demands, because there are a lot of peripheral demands around the captaincy.

"But Rocky's last outing as captain was a landmark performance and he'll continue to be a key leader for us."

Deans denied the change of captaincy was a decision directly aimedat being able to start the in-form Scott Higginbotham as blindside flanker ahead of Elsom.

"It had no bearing on those sorts of decisions. We've always got that scope," the coach said.

"Critically, we believe in not only the team's best interests but Rocky's best interests as well."

Elsom backed the Reds lock Horwill as a good choice to take over.

"I think Kev (Horwill) will do a really good job and pretty well everyone on the side wants the same thing and we're pushing very hard for that," he said.

Horwill said Elsom was the first person he spoke to after learning he would lead Australia to New Zealand next month.

"He's a very good friend of mine and that conversation between me and him was fantastic," Horwill said.

"He was very supportive of me and I want to use him as much as possible because I think he is a great leader and someone that this team needs to be part of this group to move forward and be successful.

"Rocky's a guy who doesn't speak unnecessarily and, when he talks, the whole group listens.

"That's just one of many things that he as a leader I've learnt from."

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