A DESIRE to return to finals football and restore the Ipswich Jets to the top of the Intrust Super Cup totem pole is driving star prop Nat Neale this year.
And now the reigning Allan Langer Medallist will have extra motivation to perform at his best, after his captaincy was announced to the playing group at training in March.
Neale will take over the official duties from 2016-17 incumbent Dane Phillips - but do not expect much to change for the "man of few words”.
"(Ben and Shane Walker) asked if I wanted to be captain, and I said it would be a huge honour,” the onetime South Sydney player said.
"They just want me to do what I do week-in, week-out. Don't change anything.
I'm not a talker, I lead with my actions.”
Neale did exactly that for the Jets last season, leading the competition in tackles and offloads, culminating in his third Allan Langer Medal as the Jets' best and fairest player.
Co-coach Shane Walker said the decision to move on from Dane Phillips had nothing to do with the playmaker's leadership qualities.
"For Dano, we just wanted to alleviate the pressure of captaincy from him,” Walker said.
"Often times as the halfback you need to be trying things and getting things going. If he has an off game, he feels that burden of being captain.
"We know he's an outstanding big-game player for us. We just want to let him focus on his own game this year.
"He'll still complement Nat with his leadership.”
Walker called Neale "a natural fit” to lead the Jets in 2018. He reiterated the prop's true value as a captain would come from his consistently dominant performances on the park.
"He's the type of guy that won't do a whole heap of talking, but that's not what we want anyway, we've never wanted that from a captain,” Walker said.
"We want him to lead by example, and Nat does that every week. He's won three Allan Langer Medals because he's the most consistent player.
"He just rips in every week, gives 100% of his effort and that's what we want. He'll do a great job.”
Neale lead the Jets out the first time against the PNG Hunters in Port Moresby. After two seasons out of finals contention, there is only one thing on his mind.
"We want to win grand finals. We don't play footy not to win.”