McCullough ready to take control
He will lead the Brisbane Broncos for the first time at the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines next week but Andrew McCullough is more focused on closing games out than becoming long-term captaincy material.
The last time McCullough captained a side was the Darling Downs representative team at the Queensland state under-18s championships in 2006 and now joins the likes of Wally Lewis, Darren Lockyer, Allan Langer and Gorden Tallis as men to have led the Broncos into battle.
As is befitting of coach Wayne Bennett there was no fanfare around the announcement on Wednesday, with McCullough's name simply the first to be read out to the assembled playing group, but the Dalby Devils junior said it was a great honour to be given such a role.
"He just read the team out and said I was captain, so I was over the moon," said McCullough, who will turn 25 the day before the Nines kick off. "He just said it in front of everyone so obviously I was very excited and happy to be able to lead a Broncos team in any competition or with any jersey on.
"Obviously it's a huge honour to captain any side but especially [to lead] the Brisbane Broncos is a very proud moment for myself and I'm just really thrilled and excited about it."
But while debate continues to circulate as to who Bennett will appoint as his sole captain for the upcoming NRL season, McCullough said his goals centred around contributing when it counts.
The Broncos were guilty of letting sizeable leads slip against the likes of the Roosters and Rabbitohs last season that ultimately impacted significantly on their final position on the ladder.
In a stellar season that culminated in selection in the Kangaroos' team for the Four Nations, some criticism was levelled at Ben Hunt's ability to close a game out but McCullough insists it is an area where he himself needs to have a greater influence.
"I've got a few goals that I've set. For me it's that consistency in closing games out, I want to take a bit more responsibility on that," said McCullough.
"There were some important games last year where we had quality teams, top four teams, beaten and ended up beating ourselves with a few minutes to go and that comes back to responsibility on myself and Benny Hunt in a way as well. Closing games out and just sticking to a game-plan when we've got a lead and to be able to back our defence a lot better."
With 145 games for the Broncos over the past six seasons McCullough has established himself as one of the most durable players in the competition.
In the two games he missed last season the Broncos suffered losses to the Sharks and Warriors and with so many new faces at the club this year he has taken a more active role in getting to know his teammates.
According to McCullough, it's the type of actions that define leadership, whether you have the 'c' next to your name or not.
"You should be always willing to put yourself out there at the best of times, even without the 'c' next to your name," he said.
"To spend time with blokes you wouldn't normally and obviously guys you haven't had much to do with over the last few years and who are new to the team... There are more than 8-10 guys in a team, it's a squad of 30 these days so it doesn't have to be long but a conversation can go a long way with certain blokes in the team.
"You should always be trying to lead in your own way. [Being captain] shouldn't change who I am as a person and also me as a player. It's something I'm very proud of but in saying that it's not going to change me and how I train or how I am around the boys."