Christian Welch is ready to implement his own leadership methods after being announced as the Storm's first solo captain since Cameron Smith ahead of the 2023 season.
Since arriving in Melbourne as an 18-year-old a decade ago, Welch played the bulk of his 118 NRL games under future immortal Smith, who retired in 2020.
But after being chosen ahead of vice captains Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes and Harry Grant, Welch said the 2023 leadership team will form a much different leadership “model” than the five-time premiership winning skipper.
Munster chats about vice captaincy
“It’s a lot more flatter leadership model compared to when we had Cameron Smith, our head honcho,” Welch told the media on Tuesday.
“I said to the boys today in the meeting, it’s a group effort. We’ve got six guys in the leadership group and three vice captains in Harry (Grant), Jahrome (Hughes) and (Cameron) Munster.
“We’re all leading together and working hard to set the standards off the field but also on the field I need these guys who are our really important spine players to push the team around while I just work on making the tackles.”
Appointed as captain is a natural progression for Welch after the 28-year-old was named to share the job with Jesse Bromwich in 2022 before he suffered a ruptured Achilles in Round 1.
Riding the highs and lows of the NRL throughout his time at Melbourne, Welch said multiple setbacks have helped him prepare to be the club's next skipper.
Hughes joins Munster in vice captaincy role
“I care a lot about this club and the people in it. It (leadership) doesn’t take any energy away from me, if anything it gives me energy being involved and being really passionate about driving the club forward,” he said.
“It hasn’t always been smooth sailing with two ACL’s, an Achilles and I lost my first two grand finals. So I’ve had some setbacks on and off the field but I think it shapes you as a person and builds resilience.
“I certainly know coming back this season and playing the last two trial games, I don’t take it lightly playing in this jersey every time and it’s something I’d like to pass on to the younger boys who think they might have five or ten years in this jersey.
“You’ve got to take it one game at a time and really soak it up and enjoy it because it’s a special club.”
Welch also praised the impact former Geelong Cats legend Joel Selwood has had on the club’s leadership group since joining the club in the off-season.
"It’s been interesting seeing Joel and a bit of a contrast in how he approaches footy," he said.
"He’s all about the process and not necessarily the result and I think that’s something we could all get better at... and hopefully Bellsa (Craig Bellamy) takes it on board."
Match: Eels v Storm
Round 1 -
Venue: CommBank Stadium, Sydney