Twenty-four-year-old All Black loose forward Dalton Papalii has been named as captain of the Blues for the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season.
Papalii, with 45 games under his belt for the Blues, will assume the mantle of leadership from Patrick Tuipulotu, who is on sabbatical playing in Japan this season.
Blues Coach Leon MacDonald said Papalii is the epitome of what the Blues stand for.
“He is a born-and-raised Aucklander who has come through the Blues system. His work ethic is second-to-none to go with his immense skill, speed and tenacity,” said MacDonald.
“Dalton has already been in our leadership group and has been a big part in building the culture of our team and although he is a young man, he has already emerged as a key cog at our club, both on and off the field.
“We believe he is ready to take on the captaincy, bearing in mind that we have a number of highly experienced leaders like Beauden Barrett, Harry Plummer, Tom Robinson and a bunch of All Blacks who will wrap around him.”
Papalii said he was humbled to be asked to lead the team.
“It is a real honour and privilege. To be honest, I was surprised when Leon approached me but very humbled to take over this season from Patty,” said Papalii.
“We have a bunch of my teammates who have international experience and I am going to be calling on them within our leadership group. I’ve also reached out to Patty in Japan and he has given me loads of advice, and is a phone call away if I need a sounding board.
“The boys have already set the tone and welcomed the All Blacks back into the group. We are all buying in to what we stand for, and what we want to achieve. We have some challenges with this time away in Queenstown, but we need to put in the mahi every single day.
“Every time we put the jersey on, we will be 100 per cent committed to our teammates, our staff, our families, our sponsors, our club and our fans.”
The 1.93m openside loose forward has been a standout No 7 in both Super Rugby and internationally for the All Blacks, making his international debut in Japan aged 21 and has now played 12 times in black.
He made his Super Rugby debut against the Chiefs in 2018 and is expected to chalk up 50 games for the Blues this season.
Previously published by www.blues.rugby