GO TO a private school, then work your way through the rugby union ranks.
That was, and still is, considered to be the best way to make a name for yourself in rugby union in Australia — particularly in Sydney.
But Hawkesbury’s Dave Dennis has not only made a name for himself playing for the Wallabies, but has also been named captain of the NSW Waratahs last week for the 2013 Super rugby season.
Dennis started his rugby career at school and in less than a decade has reached the pinnacle of the game.
And now it’s an individual honour for the former Richmond High student.
‘‘It wasn’t the traditional route that most guys take before playing Super Rugby, but I’m proud of where I came from in the Hawkesbury and it’s probably helped me as a player,’’ Dennis said.
‘‘It [captaincy] was a bit of a surprise, but I’m extremely proud and honoured to do it.’’
Dennis said he would use the ‘actions speak louder than words’ approach to his leadership when the season gets under way on February 23 against the Reds at Suncorp Stadium.
‘‘I’m not too big on talking; I’ll just try and uphold the things we’ve talked about as a squad and get out there and try to perform,’’ he said.
‘‘I won’t be yelling at guys; I’ll be leading and trying to set an example of how we want to be seen as a team and as players on and off the field.’’
The Waratahs had a shocking finish to last year’s competition, losing their last eight games, but Dennis said the squad had learnt from last season and was keen to repay the faith shown by fans.
‘‘We know what not to do in terms of how we went about things last year. It was a disappointing year for us as players but moreso for our fans. I don’t think we showed what we’re about as a club and as a state,’’ Dennis said.
‘‘The whole attitude and work ethic around the club has changed and we’ve put ourselves into a pretty good spot to perform, so there are no excuses really.
‘‘The two biggest things are consistency. It’s such a tough competition that if you drop your standards one week you’ll have a loss against your name. Our self-belief is the other important thing: We need to back ourselves in everything we do then we can go a long way.’’
Dennis is adamant the captaincy would not hinder his game and said, surprisingly, that at 27 he was entering the final phase of his career with the Waratahs.
‘‘I’ll try and play how I’ve always played and try and work hard for the team. Obviously there’s a bit more involved with talking to referees and the media but out on the field I’ll be playing my natural game and telling the boys to do the same and back themselves,’’ Dennis said.
‘‘I’m keen to stay around for a few more years at the Waratahs. I’m 27 now and I’d like to think that I’ve matured into the role a bit.
‘‘You don’t get long in the jersey and I’ll probably get four more years there if I’m lucky and to be named as captain is very special and I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure we’re successful.’