WELLINGTON - All Blacks Liam Messam and Aaron Cruden have been named co-captains for the Super Rugby defending champions the Chiefs.
Staying with a concept that has carried them to championships in 2012 and 2013, coach Dave Rennie has decided the captaincy duties are best shared.
Flanker Messam and lock Craig Clarke had jointly held the job but Clarke has gone to Irish club Connacht, leaving a gap to fill.
Rennie says influential five-eighth Cruden, 25, was ready for more responsibility.
"Aaron has been a massive influence in our success to date. His rugby knowledge, attitude and ability to direct a game is impressive. He is greatly respected, a natural leader and will thrive with this added responsibility."
The former New Zealand under-20 captain has been the Chiefs' player of the year for the past two seasons.
Messam is the most-capped Chiefs player with 113 matches and has barely missed a minute of play in their two title runs.
"He is an uncompromising player and a leader who epitomises Chiefs mana," Rennie said.
The Chiefs play their first pre-season match against the Queensland Reds in Toowoomba on Saturday.