DAN Whiteman has been named as the new captain of Colchester Rugby Club's first team.

The long-serving flanker is taking the over in role as Blacks skipper after Liam Pickett's decision to step down after four years as Colchester captain.

Whiteman is a Colchester stalwart and has been pulling on the club's black jersey since he was five years old, first appearing at Mill Road alongside current team-mates Ollie White, James Mitchell and Alex Mitchell in the under-sixes squad of 1994. Whiteman saw out the whole of his youth rugby career at the club and, in that time, secured the Colchester Colts' first-ever Eastern Counties Cup win as well as helping the side to the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the National Colts Cup in successive years.

His success followed him into the senior section as he received his first cap at the age of 18 and he has been part of every promotional campaign, culminating in the first-team competing in the National Leagues in 2015/16.

The new skipper said: "The club has been a huge part of my life and I have made life long friends because of it.

"To be captain is a huge honour for me.

"I have always had great captains since playing here and to join the list is fantastic.

"I can’t wait to start next season and with the prospect of the new move I couldn’t think of anything better than celebrating next season with promotion."

The Whiteman family is set to play a big part in the club's fortunes next year as Dan's mother - Maggie - will serve as Colchester president.

Pickett, meanwhile, said said he was stepping down due to off-field commitments, but knew he was placing the first team in good hands.

"It has been a privilege to captain Colchester over the last four seasons," said Pickett.

"It is with regret that I stand down, but with the birth of my son, I now have more commitments off the field that will take a lot of my time.

"But I am very happy to hand over the reins to Dan who has covered me while I’ve been injured over the last couple of seasons.

"The club is in safe hands with Dan; he is a natural leader and a workhorse who earns respect in every game he plays.

"In my opinion, the team needs a player like him, full of energy, and a great tactical mind to lead us to promotion next season. "Thank you to all the lads over the last four seasons - I'm proud to have been your captain."