Heppell named new Bombers skipper
AFL: Dyson Heppell has been unveiled as Essendon's skipper for the 2017 season, but former captains Brendon Goddard and Jobe Watson have been included in a new-look seven-man leadership group.
Heppell takes over the captaincy reins from Brendon Goddard, who held the role temporarily last season while Heppell and 12 other listed Bombers served doping suspensions.
Heppell will have two deputies this season, with Zach Merrett and Cale Hooker taking up vice-captain roles.
Watson, Goddard, Michael Hurley and Joe Daniher make up the rest of the leadership team.
Heppell paid tribute to former skipper Watson, who voluntarily handed back his 2012 Brownlow Medal late last year.
"Jobe has been a tremendous captain of our club, he's one of the great leaders of our game, and he's been a wonderful mentor to me over the journey,” he said.
"While I inherit this enormous responsibility from Jobe, and acknowledge the great job BJ did as stand in skipper last year, it's important for me to be an authentic leader of the club and to develop my own leadership style.
Bombers chief executive Xavier Campbell paid tribute to Watson for his six-year stint as the club's captain.
"On behalf of everyone at the club I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Jobe Watson for his selfless and simply outstanding captaincy during his six seasons at the helm. Jobe will be remembered as a great captain of Essendon.”
Essendon coach John Worsfold said Heppell was ready to take on the skipper role.
"Dyson has an incredible ability to extract the best out of people, both on and off the field. He backs up his words with actions, and does this on a consistent basis, which is a true mark of a leader,” he said.
David Zaharakis and Mark Baguley have both been omitted from the group, while James Gwilt has retired.
Worsfold said the array of experience on the leadership team, which stretches from 21-year-old Merrett to 32-year-old Watson, was one of its biggest strengths.
"The seven members of the leadership group are super professionals who are passionate about helping Essendon become the most inclusive, successful and respected sporting organisation in the country,” he said.
"They will also maintain a strong level of communication to the club's leaders and coaching group on all aspects of our vision.
"The different experience levels of our leaders reinforces our team philosophy that whether you're in your first season or you've been at the club for a decade, we all have a role to play when it comes to living and upholding our core values.”