Ben Smith Highlanders name James Lentjes as captain for 2020 Super Rugby season

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Ben Smith James Lentjes will replace Highlanders co-captains Ben Smith and Luke Whitelock.

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James Lentjes will replace Highlanders co-captains Ben Smith and Luke Whitelock.

The Highlanders have named James Lentjes as their new captain, with Aaron Smith and Ash Dixon moving into vice-captaincy roles.

Flanker Lentjes, 28, had a strong Super Rugby campaign in 2019 and will replace last season’s co-captains Ben Smith and Luke Whitelock, both of whom are now playing in France.

Lentjes was part of last season’s leadership group and is regarded as a tough and smart leader who overcame injury issues to take ownership of the Highlanders No 7 jersey in 2019.

Lentjes revealed he spoke to senior members of the Highlanders’ playing group to seek their feedback before telling head coach Aaron Mauger he would accept the role. 

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“They were supportive and that gave me the confidence they were in my corner,” Lentjes said on Friday.

“They were happy for me to be captain. It’s a one-man job in terms of captaincy but they’ll influence the decisions that I make quite significantly.”

Lentjes’ was offered the role by Mauger last month and his decision to first seek the counsel of his team-mates undoubtedly reinforced to the head coach that he had picked the right man.

“Azza was happy for me to take a couple of weeks to think about it,” Lentjes s

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