CARL Kirwan says he is proud to lead Chinnor in National League 1 this season.

The former Worcester Warriors flanker has been named first-team captain as the Thame-based side build towards their opener against Blackheath on September 7.

Kirwan will take on the role this weekend, when Chinnor welcome Old Albanian and Carmarthen Quins to Kingsey Road for their final pre-season friendlies.

The 28-year-old, who previously captained London Welsh during their time at Oxford’s Kassam Stadium, is one of the club’s big-name summer signings after stepping down two levels from the Gallagher Premiership.

Despite his experience, Kirwan was surprised to be named skipper in the aftermath of last Saturday’s 17-5 friendly defeat to Championship club London Scottish.

“It’s an honour,” said the back-row forward, who is also Chinnor’s defence coach.

“Matt (Williams, director of rugby) told me in the huddle (after the game), so it was a little bit of a shock.

“But it’s something I take great pride in and something I look forward to.”

Kirwan added: “It’s a really good squad, and it’s a competitive group.

“First of all, it’s about getting my name on the team sheet week in, week out.

“It’s also about improving the club as a whole.”

Chinnor have made no secret of their desire to challenge for promotion from the third tier in 2019/20.

And Williams said Kirwan was the stand-out candidate to take on the first-team captaincy from Danny Barnes, who decided to step down from the role earlier this summer.

He added: “Carl stood up in pre-season and made the appointment easy.

“He is a natural leader of men and backs it up on the field too.”

Last week, Ben Manning, who has made more than 100 appearances for Chinnor, was appointed club captain.

Meanwhile, Oxfordshire will have a strong showing at today’s National Rugby Awards at Twickenham.

Oxford Harlequins are up for facility development of the year following their move to Horspath Sports Ground.

Henley Hawks have made the shortlist in the mini, junior and youth section, while Chinnor’s Luke Willis has been nominated for the underdog story award.

Jonathan Tibbetts is up for the club sponsor accolade for his support of Banbury.