CAPTAIN MATERIAL: Steve Bell in action.
CAPTAIN MATERIAL: Steve Bell in action.

Captain? Now that rings a Bell

SYDNEY ? New Manly signing Steve Bell has hosed down reports he is a leading contender to skipper the NRL club this season, claiming there are more worthy captaincy candidates within the Sea Eagles camp.

The former Melbourne threequarter has been mooted as a potential skipper for his initial season in the maroon and white, along with 2005 captain, Michael Monaghan, veteran forward, Ben Kennedy, and fellow newcomer, Matt Orford.

Orford has already stated his desire not to be considered for the role in a bid to let him settle in at the club, a course Bell is also keen on taking.

"It's something I'd definitely love (to do) but there are other guys here who could do it too,'' Bell said today. "I'm still just trying to fit in and trying to lead by example.

"I don't know where they (the media) got that one from.'' While captaincy may not be on Bell's agenda for 2006, State of Origin football is.

The 29-year-old has been on the cusp of a Queensland call-up for several seasons now, and Bell believes it is about time he is given a chance at the higher level.

"You kind of get sick of just being talked about as a chance of playing,'' Bell said. "You challenge yourself where you think you can play at that level and to get the opportunity would be great.

"I think I could handle it, but until you actually get in there in an actual game and get a taste of it, you don't really know.''

The speedy centre is at least assured of a spot in the Sea Eagles backline, but mystery still surrounds the identity of his centre partner.

Steve Mattai and Paul Stephenson are leading contenders to fill the berth when the Sea Eagles kick off their 2006 campaign against Canberra at Brookvale Oval on March 11.

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