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Wallabies back rower Ben McCalman and hooker Heath Tessmann are the new co- captains of the Western Force after Matt Hodgson decided to stand down from the role.

Hodgson announced in October he would play on for the Force in 2017 but hand over the captaincy.

McCalman always loomed as Hodgson’s natural successor. But the appointment of Tessmann will come as somewhat of a surprise to many rugby fans.

Tessmann faces a major fight just to earn a starting berth this season following the signing of Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau.

But coach Dave Wessels said Tessmann’s exemplary leadership qualities were simply too hard to ignore.