18th Jul, 2019

Leader GJ excited to be skipper

Rob George 15th Aug, 2018

GJ VAN VELZE has revealed his delight at being named Warriors skipper as Alan Solomons’ men prepare to embark on their 2018/19 Gallagher Premiership campaign.

The South African, who captained the side from 2014 to 2017, has been a consistent performer during his four years at Sixways and has racked up 66 appearances, all in the starting line-up.

He was appointed captain in his first season at the club, helping guide Warriors back to the top flight at the first time of asking after relegation.

Van Velze captained the side in 2015/16 and also on the opening day of the 2016/17 season before an unfortunate concussion injury kept him out for the rest of that campaign.

But last year he bounced back to full fitness and was instrumental in some of Warriors’ big wins against Northampton Saints, Leicester Tigers and Exeter Chiefs, captaining the side in the absence of Donncha O’Callaghan.

“It’s a privilege to be named club captain again. Not many people get a second opportunity so it is an awesome feeling,” Van Velze said.

“We’re in a good place right now but the real test will come when the season starts and we must continue to drive standards from week to week.

“Being named captain isn’t just about one person – it’s about the support alongside them – and we’re fortunate to have a great leadership group who have become a very experienced group over the past four years. We’ve had the luxury of people like Jack Singleton going away with England and then working his way up into that leadership group position which is a credit to the club, while also having guys like Francois Venter who has been a breath of fresh air.”

Before his move to Sixways, Van Velze was part of a Northampton side that reached the 2012/13 Premiership final and won the league in 2013/14. He has also featured for the Pretoria-based Bulls in Super Rugby and South Africa’s Currie Cup.

Director of rugby Solomons said: “GJ is a fantastic leader with a good rugby brain. He is calm and composed and makes good on-field decisions.

“We saw him assume the reins in the absence of Donncha last season and he did an excellent job. He had a great season last year and he’s done well as captain before, so I have no doubt he will lead the side well.”

WARRIORS will host Birmingham Moseley at Sixways next Thursday, August 23, in a pre-season clash (kick-off 7pm).

The game will be a match practice played under match conditions and provides another opportunity for players to get some game-time before the season gets under way on Saturday September 1.

Director of rugby Alan Solomons said: “We have a close relationship with Moseley and it’s fantastic that they’re able to assist us in this hit-out.

“It provides us with another good opportunity to look at some players in match action before the season gets under way in September.”</

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