The first captain of the Yorkshire Carnegie era is Ryan Burrows.
The 26-year-old back-row forward will wear the armband for the first time tomorrow when the club formerly known as Leeds begin their Greene King IPA Championship season at Cornish Pirates.
Born in Cleckheaton and having played all his club rugby in the White Rose county, Burrows is the perfect fit to lead a team that sports the Yorkshire name.
Since joining the Headingley outfit from Rotherham Titans three seasons ago, he has gone from strength to strength and established himself as one of the division’s most consistent and robust flankers.
He has made more than 70 appearances for the club, winning the first of many man-of-the-match awards on his debut against London Welsh.
“It’s a massive honour and hopefully I get to keep it for the rest of the year,” said Burrows, who is likely now to be the man head coach Gary Mercer tasks with being his permanent on-field lieutenant. “But the most important thing is leading the boys out against Pirates and getting the right result for the club and for the team.”
Burrows gave departed captain Jacob Rowan support last season as the younger man led Carnegie to the promotion play-offs for the second season running.
“I was probably a bit of a leader at times last year, helping Jacob out and it’s good to be recognised as that,” said Burrows, who started his career at hometown club Cleckheaton.
“So being given the armband on a matchday and the opportunity to lead these boys out is a massive honour.”
As well as captaining the side, Burrows will be a vital part of a renewed effort to be a stronger defensive unit this season as Carnegie look to compete with Bristol and Worcester Warriors, among others, for a finishing spot in the top four.
“Gary’s not been able to do much hands-on coaching yet, but he’s going to be a lot more disciplined in defence which we probably lacked at times last year,” said Burrows.
“Discipline, in terms of game management, is something we lacked at times and is something we need to work on.”
Forwards coach Tommy McGee has selected the team that opens at Cornish Pirates.
David McIlwaine and scrum-half Chris Pilgrim debut, alongside former London Welsh prop James Tideswell, Leeds Beckett University student Liam Edwards at lock and former England international Chris Jones in the back row.