Waratahs appoint Grace Hamilton as captain for 2020 Buildcorp Super W campaign

OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN: Grace Hamilton, pictured embracing mum Viv after a win in Bathurst last season, will skipper the Waratahs in 2020. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN: Grace Hamilton, pictured embracing mum Viv after a win in Bathurst last season, will skipper the Waratahs in 2020. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK

Grace Hamilton will lead NSW's bid for a third consecutive Buildcorp Super W title next year after being named Waratahs skipper by new head coach Campbell Aitken, replacing premiership-winning captain Ash Hewson in the role.

Hewson retired following last year's title, one she inspired with her incredible extra-time heroics, and considering Hamilton is also the Wallaroos' skipper it proved a logical choice although it wasn't until Sunday that Aitken officially appointed the Panuara-born back-rower.

She'll captain the side as part of a wider leadership group that also includes Emily Robinson, Iliseva Batibasaga and Katrina Barker, the quartet are part of the 13-strong Waratahs contingent with international experience.

She's a natural leader who has so much respect in our squad.

Waratahs coach Campbell Aitken, on Grace Hamilton

Although Hamilton's appointment seemed inevitable Aitken admitted it wasn't an easy decision, with a number of factors coming into play before he settled on her to skipper the side, which includes Forbes' Lillyann Mason-Spice.

"I wouldn't say it was an easy choice, we have a number of leaders, but Grace is such a figurehead in our squad given her position in the Wallaroos," Aitken said.

"We all know her ability on the field, I was more wary of putting too much pressure on her.

"I'm really pleased [to name her captain] but Grace has still got a bit to learn when it comes to leadership.

"I'm looking forward to working with her on that, but she's a natural leader who has so much respect in our squad."

Aitken said there's little doubt Hamilton will use what she's learned from Hewson, a former Sydney University teammate who he said had a huge influence on the entire Waratahs group, not just his new skipper.

"I think Grace picked up a few things from Ash, but she brings her own style and that's what we want to encourage, have Grace be herself and bring her whole self to the role which I know she will," Aitken said.

Providing inspiration on the field will, of course, be a huge facet of Hamilton's leadership however Aitken said she and the rest of the leadership group will also be charged with developing the culture across the squad.

He's confident he has the right women for that job too.

"I was pretty clear in my mind that I wanted two forwards and two backs, and I didn't want too many players from one particular club to spread the reach of the leadership group," Aitken added.

"I think they're all leaders in their own right, I've seen that in pre-season and I saw it last year.

"Peer-to-peer communication is quite powerful and will be an important part of how we deliver messages and build that culture.

"I want the players to take a bit more ownership over that (culture), rather than have it dictated to them as well as give me regular feedback on how we're coaching and how the squad is feeling.

"We do have other leaders in the group as well, other international players and we'll be leaning heavily on them - it won't just be down to those four."

Hamilton's appointment comes after she was crowned the Wallaroos' player-of-the-year and then the Rugby Union Players' Association Taylor's Wines People's Choice Award.

The Waratahs' pre-season continues into the new year before their bid for a three-peat kicks off against the Melbourne Rebels on Friday, February 14, at AAMI Park.

This story Hamilton appointed to skipper Waratahs' bid for Super W three-peat first appeared on Central Western Daily.