Prop Alaalatoa earns Wallabies captaincy

Thu, Nov 10, 2022, 1:07 PM
by AAP
The Wallabies travelled to Paris to face France in their second Spring Tour game of the 2022 campaign.

Allan Alaalatoa has emerged as a potential permanent successor to record-breaking Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper after being named to lead Australia for the first time.  

Alaalatoa will take the reins from resting fellow front-rower James Slipper after being rushed straight back for Australia's spring tour clash with Italy in Florence on Saturday.

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Alaalatoa was forced out of last week's 30-29 loss to France after being concussed in the Wallabies' tour-opening 16-15 win over Scotland.

But in a measure of how highly Dave Rennie rates the Brumbies star, Alaalatoa will not only make an immediate return but also become Australia's 85th Wallabies captain - and first new skipper since Dean Mumm in 2015.

Hooper, the Wallabies' most-capped captain in history, and Slipper, the stand-in skipper following Hooper's softly, softly return from personal leave, are both in the twilight of their careers.

While one of those two 30-something Test centurions remain favoured to lead Australia to the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, Rennie says 28-year-old Alaalatoa has all the credentials to be a future full-time Wallabies captain.

"He's certainly got massive respect (for) his attention to detail, his work ethic," Rennie said on Thursday night.

"He obviously captains the Brumbies and we've chosen him for that reason. He's our best option and what happens long term, who knows that, but he can definitely skipper Australia long term.

"He's hugely respected. Anyone who knows Allan well knows he's a hell of a man."

“He’s unreal, even around here he’s one of the greatest leaders around the team,” Brumbies and Wallabies teammate Lachlan Lonergan notes.

“Off the field, he’s like your brother and everyone respects him and he leads with his actions on it. He’s used to it, he’s been captain most of his life so I don’t expect anything else from him this week.”

Alaalatoa's appointment will certainly make his father Vili proud.

Cricket-loving Vili, who represented Samoa at the 1991 Rugby World Cup, named his son after former Australian Test captain Allan Border.

Hence Alaalatoa's "Captain Grumpy" nickname at the Brumbies, where he's also known as 7As.

"Very proud moment for him and his family," Rennie said of the tighthead's captaincy appointment.

"There was a lot of excitement when we named the team because obviously a couple of new boys but the biggest roar was for Al when he was named skipper."