JAMES Stacey admitted he was shocked to be considered as Oxford Harlequins’ new first team captain – but now he cannot wait to get started.

The 22-year-old centre officially takes over the reins from Allan Purchase, who will remain club captain, in January.

Stacey, whose father Kevin played for Oxford Marathons and, after their merger with Oxford Old Boys, Quins, has progressed through the side’s youth system.

The change in captaincy was initiated by Purchase, who felt the younger squad would benefit from a skipper who was a similar age.

And Stacey, who is only half-way through his first year of senior rugby, could not be prouder to take on the role.

The former Swansea University student, who is now a personal trainer, said: “I’m very excited.

“It was a bit of a shock when they first asked me, but I’m more than happy to take it on.

“The club has been a big part of my parents’ life and they are seriously proud.”

Purchase captained Quins for two years, leading them to safety in South West 1 East last season after recording eight victories in 13 games during the second half of the campaign.

Stacey is delighted the second row forward, who also skippered Oxfordshire to glory at Twickenham in the summer, will remain at the club.

He said: “That’s a massive deal.

“My main concern for taking over the captaincy was that he might move away from the club.

“But he’s got another leadership role and it’s great to have that support.”

Purchase felt the time was right for someone else to captain the side on the pitch.

He said: “With the amount of players that left in the summer, we need to build more of a younger player group.

“I have a few things coming up work-wise and in my personal life next year and it felt like a good time to pass on the baton.”

Purchase’s final game as captain was last Saturday’s victory over Witney, which lifted the side up to fifth in the table – a far cry from the precarious position in which they found themselves 12 months ago.

The 27-year-old said: “It should be perfect for James to take over, but we will wait and see.

“He’s a natural successor, because he’s been leading with his voice so far this season.

“It’s all positive and hopefully we’ll push on in the new year.”

Head coach Andy Boyle added: “Allan did a great job, it’s been a tough couple of years for him, but without him there it could have been a lot worse.

“We feel James has got a lot of really good leadership qualities.

“He’s only 22, but so far he has really impressed.”