Auckland Blues name All Blacks lock Ali Williams as captain for 2013 season
Last Updated: 11/12/12 7:41am
Ali Williams: Will skipper the Blues for 2013 Super Rugby season
Ali Williams will captain the Auckland Blues for the 2013 Super Rugby season in the absence of Keven Mealamu.
Veteran hooker Mealamu is on extended leave and will not return until mid-March, and Blues head coach John Kirwan has handed the captaincy to All Blacks lock Williams.
"I think it's an incredibly important time for Ali Williams," said Kirwan.
"I think he's got a heck of a lot to offer this franchise, he's a world class lock with the ability to lead a team and I'm extremely enthusiastic and positive about this decision."
Kirwan admitted that Williams' recent history of injuries was taken into consideration before selecting the 77-Test veteran.
He said: "He's had a bad run of injuries but I think he's ready for this because he's had a bad run and some people think he's finished. I don't believe that and neither does he."
Williams was humbled at being named as skipper but admitted it will be a huge challenge after the Blues finished last in the New Zealand conference in 2012.
"I am a hugely passionate man when it comes to the Blues and it is a great honour to lead the team next year," Williams said.
"It's an extremely tough job and I respect that. There have been many great leaders of this team before me and my job along with the team is to strengthen the strong traditions the Blues have."
The Blues open their Super Rugby campaign at home to the Hurricanes on February 23.