Rugby: South African new Otago captain

New Otago captain Eben Joubert... "I was surprised to be asked but more humbled." Photo by Craig Baxter.
New Otago captain Eben Joubert... "I was surprised to be asked but more humbled." Photo by Craig Baxter.
Never in his wildest dreams when Eben Joubert first arrived in New Zealand did he ever think he would one day be Otago captain.

Joubert (27) was named Otago captain yesterday for the forthcoming ITM Cup and will get back on to the rugby field today, intending to play the last 20 minutes for his Harbour side against Dunedin.

The flanker was born in South Africa and played for the Blue Bulls Vodacom Cup side before deciding to try his luck in New Zealand.

He turned up at the Harbour club in April 2008 and did enough to force himself into the Otago squad later that year.

He made his debut against Counties-Manukau for Otago in August 2008 and has since racked up 14 games for the province.

He badly dislocated his shoulder early last season and then had a nightmare recovery as his shoulder became infected and he was forced to spend nearly two months in hospital.

But that is all behind him now as he eyes leading Otago back from its last place last season.

"I'm so excited about this season, not just for myself but for the team. There is a whole new energy this year. The guys are training hard and there are a whole lot of players knocking on the door," he said.

"I was surprised to be asked but more humbled. But I'm very lucky to have guys round me who are leaders too."

Joubert, who is studying for an MBA at the University of Otago, said he was a captain who would lead by example and expect the team to follow.

He had captained sides at high school and also a few times when at university.

"What a year to be able to captain Otago when the team will be able to play their last game at Carisbrook and then be able to lead Otago out on the first game at the new stadium.

"It's a massive honour. How many South Africans get this honour?

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought this would have happened when I first got here."

Co-coaches Phil Mooney and Andy Hunter said Joubert was a very astute individual and a natural fit as captain.

"He brings character to the position and that is what we want. He is the sort of follow-me type of captain that is a good fit for this team," Hunter said.