Why Dennis must lead the Tahs
Dave Dennis will lead the Waratahs for the 2013 Super Rugby season because it is the "right decision" for the team.
The Wallaby flank was unveiled as the team's new captain at Wednesday's season launch in Sydney, with coach Michael Cheika revealing the team wanted him as skipper.
The 2012 Waratahs' Player of the Year, 27-year-old Dennis said he was "extremely honoured and proud to be asked".
"I was born and bred in NSW and I'm a proud New South Welshman," Dennis said, adding: Being asked to lead such a good group of boys means a lot to me. I'm a bit surprised but extremely proud."
A former Nepean Junior, Dennis was born in Sydney and brought up in East Kurrajong at the foot of the Blue Mountains.
After leaving Comleroy Road Public School, he was first introduced to rugby in year seven at Richmond High School. A member of the Sydney University club and a former captain, he made his since his Waratahs' debut as a 21-year-old against the Crusaders in 2007 and has since pulled on the sky blue jersey on 47 occasions.
He made his Wallabies debut last year against Scotland and now has 15 Test caps to his name.
Having long deliberated on the decision, Cheika said he was confident he had made the right one.
"I've been considering it for quite a while," the coach said.
"Leadership here is a very important factor so I wanted to take my time and see who I thought would be the best person to embody the values that we are holding ourselves accountable for on a day to day basis.
"The way the team reacted to the announcement, I think I've made the right decision.
"I guy like Dave from western Sydney, he's come through Sydney club rugby and earned his stripes. He's perhaps not the flashiest but he's earned the right to captain his state. He's a guy that everyone can relate to."
Explaining the expectations of his new captain, Cheika described hard work as number one.
"If you work the hardest or as hard as anyone else then they're no way you can't have respect. A big part of how the team wants to be seen this year is hard working and honest. Dave is a guy that's been working real hard. He's a great example of the identity of our team – hard working, tough, uncompromising in our style of play and the way we behave and prepared to make good decisions."
One of the team's stand out performers of last season, Dennis said would take confidence from his form last season but added that leadership was about more than just his on-field duties.
"Captaincy is not about being the best player but about how you represent the values of the team," he said.
"We know what our fans and our state wants to see and we've already sat down as a team and established what we want to be known as. It's just about doing everything I can to lead that. I've got to work hard to show [Cheika] that he's made the right decision.
"Performing well last year helps but it's as much about what you do off field that matters. I'd like to that I will be honest about things which fits in with our values. Cheik [Michael Cheika] is pretty straight up and down and I'd like to think that I'm the same with the boys."
"We've got a great opportunity to start well and I'm confident the boys will take it."
Led by trial captain Brendan McKibbin, the team got their season off to a winning start by recording a 24-16 win over the Rebels in their first trial match in Hobart last weekend.
Under McKibbin's guidance, they will play a second trial against the Blues this Saturday in Whangarei, New Zealand, before Dennis leads the team out for the first time on home turf next week in a big Super Rugby dress rehearsal against an all-star Crusaders side (Allianz Stadium, Thursday, February 14).