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Steve Price might have a new club and a new home but he?ll still have the same job in the 2005 NRL after being named as the Vodafone Warriors? new captain.
The appointment ices a year laden with honours for the 30-year-old Queenslander.
As an outstanding leader for the Bulldogs in their premiership-winning season, he was named the Dally M Captain of the Year and was also a finalist in the Dally M Prop of the Year category.
And on the day he was given the Vodafone Warriors? captaincy, Price savoured the added bonus of being named one of the five players of the year in the Australian 2004 Official Rugby League Annual edited by David Middleton.
Price was offered his new captain?s role last night at a dinner date with the club?s co-owner Eric Watson, CEO Mick Watson, head coach Tony Kemp and former captain Monty Betham.
?I was very honoured. It?s something I see as a privilege and I like the pressure of the extra responsibility of being captain,? said Price.
?I?ve enjoyed it ever since I was a kid. I think the last three years as captain at the Bulldogs made a massive difference to my game. I?m hoping that will continue and that I can improve as a person and a player.
?Being new at the club, I was worried whether the players would accept it but there was a fantastic response when it was announced. The players were very supportive and came up and congratulated me. It was very special. If that?s the sign of how they feel about it, I?m really confident and happy.?
While Price?s leadership credentials were obvious, Kemp said other players? claims were also considered.
?We?re in a privileged position at the moment with so many good leaders in our side,? he said.
?We have a national leader in Ruben Wiki, an NRL premiership-winning captain in Steve Price and we also have three others who have captained the Warriors. The choice of the captain was a very thoughtful process between the coaching staff, Eric, Mick and me and I think we?ve chosen the right player in Steve Price.?
While appointing Price as club captain, the Vodafone Warriors will also have an official vice-captain for the first time. That job goes to Betham who, late in the 2004 season, announced he was stepping down as captain.
?Monty still needs to play a big leadership role in the club,? said Kemp. ?I spoke to Eric and Mick about it so we?ve gone for a traditional vice-captain. Monty will help Steve and I think Steve still needs a little bit of help in recognising the style of blokes we have in the club and areas for improvement.?
Price is thrilled with Betham?s appointment.
?With Monty, I knew he was such a passionate guy and the Vodafone Warriors mean so much to him. I knew it was a big thing for him to step aside as captain. I?m going to learn a lot through him about the guys and there might be some things I do that might help him as a leader as well.?
As a captain, the normally talkative Price regards himself as a man of action rather than words.
?I?m not a heavy talker on the field. I?m a believer in having someone who acts rather than talks. If I have to say something I will but I don?t usually say too much.
?I?m going to find out more about the players over the next few weeks and I?ll learn whether there are players I need to have a yak to or ones I need to leave alone. That?ll be the biggest thing for me ? to learn who those blokes are and what makes them tick.
?I obviously like to have a fantastic relationship with the referees. They?re human beings and I speak to them the way I?d like to be spoken to. That?s very important to me and it?s very important to the players as well. You can get frustrated in games but you just have to bite your lip and accept it.
?I also aim for consistency. That?s what I want from my own game personally and, as a captain, also making the right decisions. The players have to be confident in the decisions I make in the situations we?re in.?
Of Price?s captaincy approach and record, Kemp says: ?They players are happy with the type and style of bloke he is. I?m sure it?s the worst kept secret that they all felt Steve would be captain. He has an impressive resume as far as captaincy goes and has a rapport second to none with referees in the NRL, as well as with other players. He?s a down to earth bloke, just like the other imports we?ve bought. I?m over the moon with Nathan Fien, Todd Byrne and Ruben in the way they?ve made themselves welcome around the joint and the way they?ve taken to the task.
?We have a chest of riches in terms of leadership where last season we were in a dire position with our seniority.?
The Vodafone Warriors can now point to three players with 200-plus NRL appearances ? Wiki (225), Price (222) and halfback Stacey Jones (215) ? plus Awen Guttenbeil with 124 games while Clinton Toopi, Francis Meli, Tony Martin, Wairangi Koopu, Richard Villasanti, Fien and Betham are all poised to reach the 100-match milestone during the 2005 season.
Kemp also notes Price?s impact on the Vodafone Warriors hasn?t been limited to just the football environment.
?Steve is trying to pronounce Maori words properly and he?s getting into New Zealand culture,? he said. ?He?s embracing the country so with that and the leader we have I think we?ve done well.?
NRL debut: Bulldogs v Balmain at Belmore Sports Ground, July 3, 1994 (Round 14)
16 State of Origin appearances for Queensland (1998-2004)