Wallabies tighthead prop and self-described “joker” Allan Alaalatoa and vowed not to change after being named the Brumbies captain for 2020 Super Rugby season.
Alaalatoa has made 75 appearances for the Brumbies since making his debut in 2014 and earned 37 test caps for Australia.
The 25-year-old is contracted until the end of 2023 and replaces Christian Lealiifano, who departed in the off-season for Japan.
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Alaalatoa was named vice-captain of the Wallabies side who played the Barbarians in 2018 and made six starts at his maiden World Cup in Japan last year.
“It’s a huge honour,” Alaalatoa said.
“When [coach Dan McKellar] called me to have a discussion about it I was overwhelmed and the first thought you go to is of all the past players who have been in this position.
“To add your name to that list is very special.
“I’ve always been someone that talks on the field then is a relaxed joker off the field. I think you’ve got to find that balance and I think being captain isn’t going to change who I am.”
Alaalatoa became the first prop to be named the Brumbies’ players’ player of the season last year and will be joined in the leadership group by vice-captains in Tom Cusack, Lachlan McCaffrey and Joe Powell.
McKellar and Alaalatoa arrived in Canberra at the end of 2013 and the coach said the front-rower always had “enormous potential”.
“It was clear then, as a 19-year-old, he was going to be an international tighthead prop if he applied himself and that’s what he does,” McKellar said.
“He’s someone that will always come to the coaches with ideas and is happy to challenge the coaches when required.
“He’s a true professional. It’s not rocks and diamonds with Al, you always get that consistency around his preparation and he leads by example.”
Lealiifano departed alongside international players David Pocock, Henry Speight, Rory Arnold and Sam Carter – and the Brumbies haven’t signed any Wallabies.
But Alaalatoa emphasised their goal remained winning the club’s first Super Rugby title since 2004.
“It’s a new-look team but that brings new excitement,” he said.
“We’re looking to win Super Rugby, you can’t set the bar any lower than that.”
The Brumbies play a trial match against the Melbourne Rebels in Albury on Thursday then kick off their season against the Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium on January 31.
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