- EP Elephants coach Peter de Villiers had little hesitation installing Inny Radebe as his captain despite admitting such a process is "difficult" in general.
- He believes his pivot is a "natural leader" while also trying to harness the presence of his deputy, prop Lupumlo Mguca.
- In the rugby wilderness for almost three years, Radebe said that the responsibility is a "great honour".
Peter de Villiers, the Eastern Province Elephants' head coach, is nothing but a man of conviction, which is why he had little doubt making Inny Radebe the first captain of his tenure.
The 26-year-old pivot is set to write a heartening chapter in his up-and-down career by making a long-awaited return to professional rugby after a three-year absence.
Rabede, who had worked his way through Sharks' structures, was on the cusp of completing a potentially fruitful move to the Lions before a serious knee injury left him in the wilderness.
The year-long recovery proved detrimental to his market value as no union was willing to take a punt on him even after he played a starring role for College Rovers in their Murray Cup-winning campaign of 2019.
But De Villiers was eager to take advantage, identifying him not only as his key playmaker but also his most prominent leader.
15 David Kriel, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Marnus Potgieter, 12 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 11 Stravino Jacobs, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 WJ Steenkamp, 7 Tim Agaba, 6 Nizaam Carr (captain), 5 Janko Swanepoel, 4 Jan Uys, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Joe van Zyl, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp
Substitutes: 16 Janco Uys, 17 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 18 Gerhard van der Merwe, 19 Raynard Roets, 20 Uzile Tele, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Jandre Burger, 23 Diego Appollis
Eastern Province Elephants
15 Riaan Arendse, 14 Josiah Twum-Boafo, 13 Christopher Hollis, 12 Sherwin Slater, 11 Qeuntyne Oerson, 10 Inny Radebe (captain), 9 Luvo Claasen, 8 Luigy van Jaarsveld, 7 Anele Lungisa, 6 CJ Velleman, 5 Mncedisi Diwegu, 4 Athenkosi Manele, 3 Lupumlo Mguca, 2 Robin Stevens, 1 Lyle Lombard
Substitutes: 16 Sithembiso Befile, 17 Siyakubonga Nzuzo, 18 Emile Klaasen, 19 Ronald Sheckle, 20 Arnold Kleyne, 21 Diego Williams, 22 Josh Allderman, 23 Keanu Vers
"One of the toughest assignments for any coach is to get a leader that people want to follow," said the former Springbok coach, ahead of their meeting with the Bulls at Loftus on Sunday in the preparation series.
"A coach wants leaders with clout, with presence. Inny (and deputy Lupumlo Mguca) ticks most of the boxes. I'm very excited to see him taking charge of the boys on the field and direct them towards what we want to achieve."
Since being handed a proverbial lease of new life, Radebe has immediately won the respect of the changeroom.
"Inny is a natural leader. He was an obvious choice for me," said De Villiers.
Yet the Elephants' mentor hopes that installing the diminutive but powerful Mguca, a tighthead with PRO14 experience, as second-in-command during matches proves a masterstroke.
"Different leaders have different attributes. While Inny will be shouldered with the big on-field decisions, Lupumlo has the respect of the guys around him, especially in the pack," said De Villiers.
"They'll follow him almost blindly. I don't want those kinds of attributes to go to waste. We want to make use of this God-given gift. These two men are the best candidates for us."
Speaking as eloquently as his playmaking skills, Radebe described the responsibility as a "great honour".
"I've always been a person who has believed that being the leader of any team in any sport is a privilege. More than that, it's more of a pleasure to take on this role," he said.
"The playing group is so talented and makes it just so natural to fit in."
Kick-off in Pretoria is at 15:00.