Delve confirmed as Rebels skipper

08 February 2013 07:25:53 EST

Melbourne Rebels have named Gareth Delve as their new captain for the Super Rugby season.

The Welshman had been deputy skipper to Stirling Mortlock in his first two seasons with the franchise and, with Mortlock having retired, coach Damien Hill has elevated him to the top job.

His performances on and off the field have been recognised by the playing group and the whole organisation and it's a fantastic achievement.

Damien Hill

Delve becomes the first import player to captain an Australian Super Rugby side. He stood in for much of last season while Mortlock was injured, and Hill said he had been rightly rewarded for his efforts.

"His performances on and off the field have been recognised by the playing group and the whole organisation and it's a fantastic achievement," said the coach.

"Gareth's consistently been one of the leaders of the team, along with our 2013 club captain Tim Davidson they are the two who have been at the forefront of leadership."

Delve, who signed for the franchise three years ago and inked a new contract last year, described the captaincy as "the icing on the cake".

"The club's been fantastic in giving me the opportunity to have a leadership role and being a part of building a great culture at this place," he said.

Hill is leaving the vice-captaincy open for the moment, but has discounted Hugh Pyle from consideration. The young lock was vice-captain last year, but his coach wants him to concentrate on his own game and will look for a back to put his hand up for the role.

Wallabies James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale are the obvious choices.

Delve's first game as skipper will be on Saturday when the Rebels face the Hurricanes in their final trial in Geelong.

They kick off their season proper against the Western Force at AAMI Park next Friday night.

The Rebels are 5000/1 to win the Super Rugby title and 5000/1 to be Australia's top team in the competition.

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