Origin and Test back-rower Luke Lewis will captain the Sharks at the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines later this month.
The club confirmed the appointment on Friday afternoon with Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan preferring to rest regular captain Paul Gallen while Michael Ennis, Ben Barba and Andrew Fifita are also expected to miss the tournament starting on January 31.
One of the stars of last year's inaugural Nines tournament, Fifita this week withdrew from selection from the Indigenous All Stars team due to injury but Barba was in line to be selected for the February 13 clash as public voting closed on Friday.
A shoulder injury incurred in the 2013 World Cup prevented Lewis from playing in the 2014 Auckland Nines and he said he is excited to have the chance to take part and lead the club onto the field.
"I obviously didn't get to play but I watched the games our boys played last year," Lewis told Sharks Media. "It's hard for me to comment on what it might be like having not played in one, but all the boys said they enjoyed it."
For Flanagan, the appointment of Lewis as skipper for the unique rugby league event is as much about rewarding him for his pre-season efforts as it is about slotting in a suitable replacement for club captain Gallen.
"Gal won't play in the Nines, it's a long season and we want him right for the start of the year, but Luke has earned the right to captain this team," Flanagan said. "He has led the way throughout the pre-season and the Nines captaincy recognises how well he has trained."
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