Gerrard stepped into the role for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after Terry was stripped of the captaincy and injury prevented vice-captain Rio Ferdinand from taking part.
However, the 33-year-old was only named as first choice when Hodgson took over before Euro 2012, although Rooney suggests that he has always been the man to drive the team forward.
"Steven has been one of the best in the world over the last 15 years," Rooney told reporters. "We look to him to give us that drive. I think he got the captain's armband a bit later than he should have.
"He has adapted his game a little bit. He is not going forward as much as he used to but he has certainly got the ability to sit a bit deeper and play passes out.
"He is our leader and is going to be a really important player for us [against Montenegro and Poland]."
Gerrard succeeded Sami Hyypia as captain of Liverpool in 2003.