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Australian Rugby League selector Les Geeves says Gorden Tallis is a "special" to replace injured Andrew Johns as national captain.
Johns, who inherited the captaincy from Brad Fittler, will miss the remainder of the NRL season and the end-of-season Kangaroo tour after being diagnosed with a bulging disc in his neck.
Tallis is now the frontrunner to achieve one the game's greatest honours - captaining a Kangaroo tour.
He has already auditioned for the job, stepping into the leadership breach when Johns fell victim to injury last year and leading Australia to victory over the Kiwis.
"When Joey (Johns) pulled out of the Test against New Zealand last year Gordie was a unanimous choice among selectors and the board," said Geeves.
"It's the greatest honour ever and I'm terribly disappointed and upset for Joey who's an integral part of our side."
Johns' injury poses another selection issue -- finding a new halfback.
Sharks No.7 Brett Kimmorley, Bulldogs playmaker Brent Sherwin and Penrith's Craig Gower are now in a three-horse race.
Kimmorley filled the role against New Zealand last year and has a close relationship with national coach Chris Anderson, his club mentor.
However, the Sharks will not play in the finals and Kimmorley, currently sidelined with a groin injury, may not play again before the end of the season.
Sherwin was Johns' shadow during the State of Origin series while Gower has been in sensational form for the Panthers.
Brisbane's Shaun Berrigan is also likely to come into contention and will have the chance to press his claims through the NRL finals.
Geeves also threw Sydney Roosters halfback Brett Finch into the mix but agreed Kimmorley had done the job well in the past.
No matter who gets the spot, they'll have massive shoes to fill.
Anderson admitted Johns was impossible to replace.
"You're not just losing a player, you're losing a leader," Anderson said.
"We have got quality blokes there to take over, but none as good as him.
"He dominates the game and it's hard for a new bloke to come in and dominate.
"When you lose your general it's tough coming up with another general. You need another general."
Sports bookmakers around the country reacted to Newcastle losing the world's best player, the Knights' premiership odds blowing from $9 to $21 as soon as news of injury became public.