Gloucester Rugby: Tom Savage named as skipper, Billy Twelvetrees is vice-captain
'OBVIOUS choice' Tom Savage has the natural leadership skills and the relentless will to win to thrive as Gloucester captain, believes Nigel Davies.
Back-five forward Savage has been appointed Gloucester club captain, taking over the armband from lock Jim Hamilton, who has moved to French Top 14 club Montpellier.
Shrewd England and now British Lions centre Billy Twelvetrees is the new vice-captain.
Rugby director Davies has backed the pair to form a formidable and canny captaincy team at Kingsholm this term.
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The Gloucester boss has also asked Savage and Twelvetrees to recruit two or three Cherry and Whites stars to form a senior leadership group among the players.
That nucleus will have a say in coaching decisions throughout the season.
Shropshire-raised Savage only took up regular rugby less than eight years ago.
The 24-year-old arrived at Hartpury College as an unknown 18-year-old, with only club experience from Bishop's Castle and Shrewsbury.
Three seasons ago Savage nagged then Gloucester boss Bryan Redpath to let him train with the senior Kingsholm squad, while he was captain of Hartpury RFC.
Davies said that grit and resolve only serves to underline exactly why Savage is ready to lead a top Premiership club.
The former Wales centre explained: "It was an obvious decision, but I don't always make the obvious call, so I spent a bit of time just thinking through the options there, looking at what was around.
"But ultimately it was very easy to come back to Tom as the captain, for a number of reasons.
"I think his story tells a lot about the type of character he is, when you look at how he came to Hartpury he wasn't really on anyone's radar.
"He worked hard at Hartpury, to the point where he would look across the field and see Gloucester train, and started nagging them to see if he could take part really.
"Eventually they got so fed up that he did, and he just went from strength to strength, and that shows real character and a real determination to succeed. It says a lot for me in its own right.
"There are a lot of other attributes about Tom too, he's very humble, but he's very focused and determined to do well.
"When he speaks, he speaks with authority because he's done a lot of learning before he says anything, so he understands what he's talking about, and everybody listens to him.
"And also when he talks about the physicality that we need to bring, he doesn't just talk about it, he delivers on the field and the players know that. He doesn't say too much, and he doesn't need to.
"I've already told him that in his role I don't expect anything more than what he is.
"He's got to speak from his heart like he always does, speak as he sees it and do it intuitively, and not try to contrive anything that maybe isn't there."
This time last year Twelvetrees joined Gloucester in search of regular Premiership rugby.
He finished last season as a potential England mainstay, and was called into the Lions squad during the summer.
Now Davies believes the 24-year-old can forge a formidable partnership with Savage.
Davies continued: "Importantly I do see a little bit of a double act with Billy Twelvetrees as well.
"He brings a different set of skills, he will obviously captain the side when Tom isn't in the team.
"Billy has huge regard and respect within the squad, tactically and technically he's exceptional, and he demands very high standards of everyone around him.
"I'm sure that's what he'll bring to the support role for Sav, and Sav will lead from the front.
"So I think between them we have a good balance of leadership skills, which I want to add to, and I've asked Tom to think about including two or three other players into a leadership group that will work alongside the coaches.
"They will have an input into decisions that we make, and they will be able to impart that and drive that through the team.
"They are young guys but they've got all the qualities you want from leaders.
"First and foremost I ask myself, would I follow those guys – and absolutely I would.
"Why would I do that? Because I believe in them, they have great integrity, they are determined, they will do whatever it takes to win.
"And when you take the balance of Tom and Billy as well, they've got more than enough nous to know how to run and manage a game."