Andrew Hore keen to lead the Highlanders
All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore is happy to pick up the Highlanders captaincy next season if that's what the team needs.
Southland's Jamie Mackintosh has captained the team for the past two years after assuming the mantle from Jimmy Cowan, but his role next season is uncertain after the announcement All Black loosehead Tony Woodcock will shift to Dunedin in 2013.
With Mackintosh likely to see more of the bench than he has at any time during his career, coach Jamie Joseph is likely to look at other captaincy options.
Hore was the skipper at the Hurricanes before leaving the franchise after a fallout with coach Mark Hammett.
He captained the All Blacks to a 79-15 win over Canada in their final pool game of last year's World Cup when Richie McCaw was injured.
"If it comes up I'd do it for the team but I know there are some young fellas as well - Tamati Ellison has been a pretty good leader too," Hore said in the buildup to tomorrow's Rugby Championship test against the Springboks in Dunedin.
"It just depends how we are going to do it and how much time we are getting on the pitch."
Hore said he had enjoyed his time under Mackintosh, describing him as a "great" captain.
Ellison captained the New Zealand Juniors before leaving to play in Japan and was also New Zealand Maori co-captain, with Liam Messam.
Hore, a Maniototo farmer when he's not playing rugby, will start against the Boks in his city of birth, one of four changes to the starting 15 from the team which beat Argentina in windy Wellington last weekend - the most of which was the dropping of halfback Aaron Smith.
Highlanders halfback Smith, who had started all six previous tests this winter, broke an unspecified team rule around recovery after the Wellington test last weekend and has been moved to the bench with Piri Weepu starting.
"He broke a protocol which is a non-negotiable and the consequence is you don't start in the 15 if you break it," All Black coach Steve Hansen said.
"We addressed it as a team. At the end of the day it's been dealt with, it's not a major but it was a non-negotiable. It's like your family, if you have rules in your family, there's consequences if you break them. That's the way we are living and we make no excuses for that."
It's a disappointing setback for Smith, who would have relished playing on his home Super Rugby track after playing his way into the All Blacks with a series of standout performances for the Highlanders this year.
Weepu, who has had to overcome his own form and fitness issues to be in contention, was relishing the chance he's been presented with.
"I guess it's a matter of going out there and doing my core roles really well and trying to make the most of my opportunity," he said.
Meanwhile, Hore said he had already signed Woodcock up as the latest All Black addition to his Maniototo Maggots club team, joining the likes of Ellison and Hosea Gear.
Hore had talked to his fellow front-rower about the environment at the Highlanders and was excited about his arrival.
"It's good for the region and hopefully he and [Mackintosh] can get on and we'll have a reasonable sort of front row when we get going." Hore was looking forward to the chance to start another test in the same place he went to school and started his rugby career.
"That's what we are all here for. Kevvie [Mealamu] has been playing pretty well and hopefully I can get out there and do the same job," Hore said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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