ROCKY ELSOM WILL travel to next month’s World Cup without a familiar piece of kit after he was surprisingly dropped as Australian captain this morning.
Announcing his final 30-man squad this morning, Wallabies coach Robbie Deans confirmed that the side will be led by lock James Horwill, who captained the Queensland Reds to their first Super Rugby title last month.
Elsom, a Heineken Cup winner with Leinster in 2009, captained Australia 24 times since taking over the armband from Sterling Mortlock two years ago.
The 28-year-old missed most of the Super Rugby season through injury and, although he has played five international tests this year, Deans and his selectors felts that the captaincy might be too much of a burden for him during the World Cup.
“It is well documented that Rocky came into the Test season off a limited background in terms of preparation, having missed all but 60 minutes of Super Rugby due to injury,” Deans said.
“As the incumbent captain, he warranted the opportunity to continue in the role but it has become clear that the additional responsibility has been a distraction that Rocky doesn’t need.
We all felt it was in the best interest, both of Rocky and of the team, to relieve him of the extra duties, with James’s recent experience making him the best option to take over in the role.
Though disappointed, Elsom tried to be philosophical about the decision, saying “it’s in the nature of the sport, it’s just part and parcel of it.”
“I don’t know if disappointed is the right term, but I think it is what it is and we’ve just got to get on with it.”
Australia face New Zealand in the final Tri-Nations test in Brisbane on 27 August, before launching their World Cup campaign with a game against Italy on 11 September.
Australia squad: B Alexander, A Ashley-Cooper, B Barnes, K Beale, L Burgess, Q Cooper, R Elsom, A Faingaa, S Faingaa, W Genia, S Higginbotham, R Horne, J Horwill (c), D Ioane, S Kepu, S Ma’afu, P McCabe, B McCalman, D Mitchell, S Moore, J O’Connor, W Palu, N Phipps, D Pocock, T Polota Nau, R Samo, N Sharpe, J Slipper, D Vicerkman.