Ben Te’o will captain the Rabbitohs at the NRL Auckland Nines despite the presence of regular skipper John Sutton in Souths’ 16-man squad.

Representative back-rower Ben Te’o will aim to put a controversial 2013 quickly behind him when he captains South Sydney at this weekend’s NRL Auckland Nines.

The Queensland State of Origin star was dogged by allegations of domestic violence last season before police and the NRL Integrity Unit found he had no case to answer.

On Tuesday Te’o was named skipper of Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire’s 16-man squad, even though full-time captain John Sutton is in the side, in a sure sign he is seen as leadership material at Redfern.

“It’s a great feeling,” Te’o told the Rabbitohs website.

“I’m going to be very proud to lead the boys out in this new competition in front of so many people, it’s a pretty big honour so I’m very excited.

“It’s a good opportunity for me to start building those leadership qualities.

“I’ll just try to keep this competition fun.

“We’re not quite sure what to expect, so we just want to go out there and play some exciting football. In that sense, there’s not going to be too much for me to say except to keep the boys positive and enjoying themselves. If we do that, I think we’ll play our best footy.”

And in a pointer to a future Sydney Roosters captain, after Anthony Minichiello likely retires at season’s end, premiership winners Mitchell Pearce and Jake Friend were named as co-captains in the Trent Robinson’s tricolours side.

With total prizemoney of $2.25 million on offer, including a $370,000 winners cheque, the majority of NRL sides have named strong teams for the inaugural two-day Eden Park tournament.

Most notably, Ben Barba was named to make his Brisbane debut.

The superstar fullback was named on Tuesday alongside fellow recruits Martin Kennedy and Stewart Mills in coach Anthony Griffin’s 18-man squad.