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'There's no doubt about it': Clayton McMillan makes confident prediction about his new captain

By Tom Vinicombe

Trending on RugbyPass

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Brad Weber’s shift to the bench for the Chiefs’ clash with the Rebels on Sunday has forced coach Clayton McMillan to name a new captain for the match and the man that’s been entrusted with the role is 24-year-old Luke Jacobson.

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Jacobson, a two-test All Black, has taken over the leadership duties at various stages throughout the season when Weber’s been off the park but it’s the first time that the loose forward has been named to start a game for the Chiefs with the captain’s armband.

That’s not to see that the big number 8 doesn’t have experience in a leadership capacity.

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He previously led the New Zealand Under 20 side to a World Championship in 2017 and was named as Waikato captain in 2018 – though was only to undertake the duties for the first time last year after concussion curtailed his prior two provincial seasons.

After missing much of the Chiefs’ 2020 campaign through injury, Jacobson has stormed back into form this year and while he won’t be the most experienced player on the park on Sunday afternoon, McMillan feels he’s the obvious choice to take over the captaincy duties from Weber and already leads from the front.

“Probably like anyone in a leadership position, he walks the talk first and foremost,” McMillan said on Friday. “He’s been playing some outstanding rugby. I thought he was immense last week when the chips were down, he really led the charge to try and get us back in the game.”

Importantly, he also has the respect of the playing group – which is no surprise given the set-backs he’s had throughout his career to date.

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“He’s got a presence in the group,” said McMillan. “He’s only a young guy but he feels like he’s been around a lot longer. He’s really composed with his messaging [and has] huge respect in our group. He’s the logical choice.”

McMillan, himself a former number 8, also made one big prediction about his new captain: “He’s going to be the captain of the Chiefs at some stage in the future, there’s no doubt about it.”

It’s not exactly the most outlandish suggestion, given that he’s already been handed the duties for a one-off match – and there are plenty of punters who have suggested that Jacobson could one day take over similar responsibilities in the national set-up.

It’s strong backing from the coach, however, and if Jacobson needed any reassurance in his leadership capabilities, McMillan’s now given him that in spades.

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Jacobson’s first task as captain will be to ensure the Chiefs approach Sunday’s game with composure and don’t attempt to run before they walk.

“Take nothing away from what the Reds brought to the table [last weekend] but we didn’t do ourselves any favour,” McMillan said. “We were inaccurate, ill-disciplined and paid the price. Early on in the game, I thought it was looking really promising and it quickly turned pear-shaped.

“We want to finish the season on a high and that, to me, only looks like two victories. If we earn the right to be able to play some expansive Chiefs rugby then we’ll do that but we’ve found when we played the Force, as an example, if you start getting a bit too loose early, you don’t earn that right, sometimes you can get a bit sloppy.

“We just need to focus on getting our set-piece right, being disciplined, playing rugby at the right ends of the field and if we do those things then we know we’ve got enough class to win the games but to suggest that we’re just going to start to throw the ball around would be detrimental to our own performance and probably disrespectful to our opposition.”

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'There's no doubt about it': Clayton McMillan makes confident prediction about his new captain

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