Highlanders reveal co-captains for Super Rugby season

Cape Town - The Highlanders have unveiled their co-captains for the 2019 Super Rugby season.

Ben Smith will return to the role while the Dunedin-based side have named Luke Whitelock as their new co-captain for the upcoming season.

Whitelock has played 88 Super Rugby matches, including 38 for the Highlanders, since 2015.

He made his All Black debut in 2013, but it was to be 2017 before he returned to the All Blacks where he captained them against a French XV.

He also captained the Canterbury provincial side, leading them to three championships in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

As a senior member of the Highlanders’ pack he has earned a reputation as an accurate and punishing defender.

Highlanders head coach Aaron Mauger believes the co-captaincy has been well earned.

“Luke and Ben demand selection for us through the consistency of their performances week to week,” said Mauger.

“Both players have a great temperament for the game and provide us leadership on and off the field. Having Lukey up front and Bender at the back provides us with a good balance of leadership on the park.”

Whitelock was humbled by the accolade.

“When I came down here in 2015, I just wanted to fit in and play good rugby, I never expected to be a co-captain,” said Whitelock.

“When I think of some of the players who have captained this team in the past like Anton Oliver and Nasi Manu it’s pretty humbling to be given the opportunity. Ash and Ben have done a great job over the last few seasons and I hope to carry that on this year.”