Rees to skipper Scarlets
August 31, 2011
Rees will try and put the World Cup heartbreak behind him © Getty Images
RaboDirect PRO12 side Scarlets have handed British & Irish Lion Matthew Rees the captain's armband for the 2011-12 season.
Rees was set to captain Wales into the 2011 World Cup but he was forced to undergo neck surgery and is set to be out for between 10-12 weeks. The 47-cap hooker will head up a three-way leadership team which consists of centre Gareth Maule and the vastly experienced prop Iestyn Thomas. Maule will assume the vice-captaincy role while Thomas will act as stand-in captain while Rees and Maule recover from their respective injuries.
And Rees admits that although missing out on the World Cup was a bitter pill to swallow, he is honoured to be given the armband. He said: "Obviously it has been frustrating and a big disappointment to me to miss out on leading my country at the World Cup and it's difficult to come to terms with - but the reality is there was no other option and I'm just pleased to have had the surgery now.
"I felt the difference as I came round, the pain in my neck eased almost straight away and the surgeon and medical team are pleased with how it went and how things are progressing now - so it's all positive.
"To be able to lead the Scarlets again next season is a privilege. It's good for me to have a real focus back at Parc y Scarlets, I just want to get back on the field and will give as much support as I can until then. My belief whether leading Wales or the Scarlets is to put in as much hard graft yourself as you'd expect from your fellow players."
And head coach at the Parc Y Scarlets Nigel Davies said Rees was the obvious choice to skipper the side.
"Matthew leads by example and is a true professional as he's shown throughout his captaincy of the Scarlets and Wales," Davies said. "He has a tough mental attitude, sets high standards for himself and others and has the total respect of all our players.
"It's a big plus for us that he will be back in and around our environment to give input and guidance within a squad that has a number of eager, young players looking to make their mark in the Scarlets jersey during the World Cup period while 10 of our front line players are in New Zealand.
"Gareth and Iestyn possess all the hallmark Scarlets values and impressed last season on and off the pitch with their attitude and approach. They both showed commitment in their own individual performances throughout last season, as well as contributing significantly to the group in the preparation for key games."
The Scarlets kick off their 2011-12 campaign on Sunday in Llanelli against Aironi.
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