Main content

Who will be your club's next captain?

Jack Ziebell is firming as North Melbourne's next skipper - ${keywords}
Jack Ziebell is firming as North Melbourne's next skipper
The club's current skipper, Nathan van Berlo, was forced to answer questions relating to his leadership this year, following calls for Patrick Dangerfield to be elevated into the position. 'VB' is loved by his teammates, who claim he's a revered figure by the playing group, but no player lets his performances do the talking like Dangerfield. The 23-year-old is the club's best player and has expressed his desire to lead it. Along with reigning and fairest Rory Sloane, also 23, the Crows appear to have the perfect captain/vice-captain team who could lead for years. Given his extraordinary fitness level, van Berlo still has probably four or five years left at the top level, but it's unlikely he'll play out his career as captain. The club is yet to announce its leadership group for the 2014 season, but a change of skipper before round one isn't out of the question. – Harry Thring

With Jonathan Brown deciding to go around another season, it's hard to see any major changes at the top. The big fella is still an inspiration and demands respect from his teammates. Jed Adcock joined him as a co-captain in 2013, and new coach Justin Leppitsch may be tempted to tinker with the structure to include a younger player (Adcock is 28) alongside Brown in 2014 as a form of succession plan. Tom Rockliff and Daniel Rich were vice-captains last season and are the obvious pair to step up – Rockliff with his voice and natural leadership, and Rich with his composure and dynamic play – but the wildcard could be ruckman Matthew Leuenberger. The longer Leuenberger's career goes, the more respect he gains both inside and outside the playing group. Either way, it appears the Lions will have a new sole leader in 2015. – Michael Whiting

Great expectations: How will your club fare in 2014?

There won't be a leadership change any time soon, with Marc Murphy just 26 years of age and entering his second season as captain. Murphy is likely to hold the title for the next four or five years, perhaps more, before handing over to a successor. The candidates won't include fellow members of the Blues' 2013 leadership group – Kade Simpson, Andrew Carrazzo and Jarrad Waite will most certainly be retired by then, while Nick Duigan has already hung up his boots. Lachie Henderson, Bryce Gibbs and Matthew Kreuzer might well be in the mix, while the next generation of Carlton leaders is also expected to include young guns Nick Graham, Troy Menzel and Patrick Cripps. Maybe the Blues' next captain isn't even at the club yet. – Ben Collins

Speculation continues about whether Nick Maxwell should continue as Collingwood captain or hand over the reins to Scott Pendlebury. Maxwell's all-round package of on and off-field leadership makes him a pretty special character within the Magpies, while Pendlebury is a gun footballer. Either way, the Magpies will have strong leadership. Dayne Beams has emerged in recent seasons as a leader of the next generation, as the Magpies work hard now to ensure they are not left with a vacuum when Maxwell and Luke Ball eventually retire.  – Peter Ryan

Scott Pendlebury appears odds-on favourite to succeed Nick Maxwell at Collingwood. Picture: AFL Media


It's probably a few years before Essendon makes any change with its leadership, given Jobe Watson is so highly rated at the club and has at least four seasons to go in his stellar career. The obvious choice for his successor is David Zaharakis, who is already in the leadership group, is a face of the club, and a popular, determined, well-spoken member of the team. Dyson Heppell is another emerging leader as is Michael Hurley, but Heppell appears more at ease with the spotlight than the robust key position player. – Callum Twomey

Matthew Pavlich will almost certainly captain Fremantle for the seventh consecutive season in 2014, but as the veteran is in the twilight of his decorated career, the Dockers need to consider their leadership situation sooner rather than later. The 2013 leadership group comprised Pavlich, Luke McPharlin, Aaron Sandilands, David Mundy, Hayden Ballantyne, Matt de Boer and Chris Mayne. McPharlin and Sandilands are also coming towards the end of their careers. Mundy has confessed he is a reluctant leader and at 28 he might not be the ideal long-term option but he would be a fantastic captain. Mayne and de Boer are very highly regarded within the walls at Fremantle but the man to watch might be Nathan Fyfe. At 22, having won his first best and fairest, he exudes maturity beyond his years and leads from the front with his performances. – Alex Malcolm

The club's brilliant skipper, Joel Selwood, is just 25 and should have at least five years of footy left ahead of him, so the emerging leaders on the Cats' list will be waiting a while to get a crack at the captaincy. When the gig does finally become available, expect midfielder Mitch Duncan to be among the key contenders. " I've already taken on a mentoring role with some of the youngest blokes on the list," the 22-year-old told the AFL Record earlier this year. "Working with the young kids has been a great part of my leadership development, and I've worked really hard to improve my communication with them. They appreciate having someone in our middle group of players who they can talk to. Sometimes I will take their feedback to the senior players. It can be tough, but it's great experience." – Adam McNicol

Gary Ablett is still the best player in the game and one of its best leaders, so there's little chance the Suns will change in 2014. However, with Ablett now 29, coach Guy McKenna will have half an eye to the future with the possibility of co-captains in 2015 and a change in 2016 and beyond as Ablett enters the final phase of his career. A host of young players are emerging as leaders, but the most prominent is centre half-forward Tom Lynch. He may be quietly spoken to the outside world, but Lynch has the respect of every teammate and would lead by example with his courageous on-field style. Dion Prestia is another impressive character, as is Jaeger O'Meara. Prospective Suns leaders still have one or two seasons to emerge from Ablett's enormous shadow before they step into the spotlight. – Michael Whiting

It will be intriguing to see what the Giants do with their captaincy, which will be announced next month, following some big-name arrivals during the trade period. Phil Davis and particularly Callan Ward have done excellent jobs sharing the role, but the club could benefit from putting some experience alongside them. Shane Mumford, Heath Shaw and Stephen Gilham have been elevated to the leadership group, while the Giants have also named a group of emerging leaders. Stephen Coniglio has been billed as a potential captain ever since he was drafted and is joined in the emerging group by the likes of Dylan Shiel, Jeremy Cameron, Adam Treloar and Devon Smith. – James Dampney

On the rise: Club greats pick their 2014 bolters

Luke Hodge is among the most highly regarded leaders in the AFL, and it is hard to imagine him leaving the captaincy before his career ends. Jarryd Roughead and Jordan Lewis have served well as vice-captains and loom as the next in line. However, with Hodge set to play on for at least another two years, both Roughead and Lewis will be in their late 20s by the time the job is up for grabs. If, at that stage, the Hawks decide to look for a more youthful option, Liam Shiels would be a candidate. The 22-year-old midfielder has shown strong leadership qualities during his 81-game career so far, and is still improving as a player. – Mark Macgugan

Liam Shiels has impressed many with his leadership during his 81-game career to date. Picture: AFL Media

Instead of looking to the future, Melbourne needs to concentrate on finding its leader for the now. There's little doubt the burden of the captaincy was an unwanted distraction for 2013 co-captains Jack Trengove and Jack Grimes. Despite Trengove deciding to step down from his post, the Demons are yet to make a final judgement on who will be leading them in 2014. Nathan Jones remains the clear favourite, while Jack Grimes is still keen to retain the role. Nevertheless, Paul Roos said recently a decision is likely to be made before the end of February. However, as with all clubs, the Demons need to have an eye to the future. Jack Viney is the clear standout to lead the club once he is ready. His professionalism, self-belief and on-field presence speak volumes of his leadership qualities. – Ben Guthrie     

Andrew Swallow will start his third season as captain on the sidelines as he recovers from a ruptured left Achilles tendon. But Swallow, 26, has been the Roos' most consistent and durable player over the past five seasons and looks set to reign for a few seasons yet. Drew Petrie, 31, deservedly stood in as acting skipper late last year but his co-vice-captain Jack Ziebell appears Swallow's logical successor. Ziebell does not turn 23 until late February and his major focus over the next couple of seasons will be on performing as consistently as his skipper. North's previous three captains all stood down at least a year before retiring and Swallow is likely to follow their example. If North tries to emulate the successful Sam Mitchell-to-Luke Hodge transition at Hawthorn, this will happen in two to three years' time when Swallow is still at his best and Ziebell is ready to handle all the pressures of leadership. When that time comes, Ziebell's support group is likely to include emerging young leaders such as Jamie Macmillan, Ryan Bastinac and Ben Cunnington, and perhaps even father-son recruit Luke McDonald, who captained Vic Metro at the 2013 NAB AFL Under-18 Championships. - Nick Bowen

Travis Boak won't be stripped of the captaincy any time soon. The All Australian midfielder thrived in his first year as the club's leader, notching career-best numbers and personally sparking numerous comebacks. He's arguably the most integral member of the side and at 25 he's still got a lot of football in front of him. Like Boak, Brad Ebert is a consistent performer who can't help but lead. At another club he might well have become skipper and many thought he might have been appointed at Alberton, but with Boak in charge Ebert is a sensational right-hand man. Further down the track, Oliver Wines is a mature footballer who could step into Boak's shoes, by which time Wines will likely be an elite player in his own right. – Harry Thring

Trent Cotchin was made captain at the end of 2012 after Chris Newman stood down, taking on the role as a 22-year-old. One year on, he appears comfortable in the job and set for a long reign as the Tigers' on-field leader. He is supported by vice-captain Brett Deledio, while ruckman Ivan Maric, star forward Jack Riewoldt and defender Dylan Grimes rounded out the leadership group in 2013. If anything, Cotchin requires more support in the midfield when the Tigers shape their leadership structure for 2014. Young on-baller Nick Vlastuin, who captained Vic Metro in 2012, is one player who could be moulded as a future leader. Reece Conca could also be ready to take on more responsibility. Key defender Troy Chaplin had an immediate impact as a leader in his first season after crossing as a free agent from Port Adelaide and it wouldn't surprise if he had an official role in 2014. – Nathan Schmook

It's likely Nick Riewoldt will hold the title for a ninth season with no clear understudy set out. There are budding candidates with Jarryn Geary and David Armitage – both 25 – who are members of the current leadership group and approaching the right age bracket. Jack Newnes is in the emerging leaders group but at 20 years old, he's still got some developing to do. There's also wraps on the potential of Tom Curren, given the newly-promoted hard worker was appointed an emerging leader when he was untried and in his third year as a rookie. With Riewoldt signed on until the end of 2015, he could potentially hand over the captaincy at the end of next season to allow his successor to settle into the role under himself and the likes of fellow veteran Leigh Montagna, who has committed until 2016.  – Jennifer Phelan

Jarryn Geary (right) is a contender to replace Nick Riewoldt when the time comes. Picture: AFL Media

Jarrad McVeigh has proven an inspired choice as co-captain, a position he has held since 2011, and won't be going anywhere anytime soon. At the age of 28, he produced an incredible season in 2013 that led to a second best and fairest award and a first All Australian jumper. Kieren Jack also slotted in seamlessly alongside him last year, replacing the huge shoes of Adam Goodes and earning his own All Australian nod. But there are some younger Swans seemingly being primed for leadership in the future. Dan Hannebery appears the most likely and is part of the leadership group, while Nick Smith's leadership skills are highly valued. Josh Kennedy also leads by example, while there is a vacant position in this year's leadership group after Jude Bolton's retirement. - James Dampney

The captaincy of the Eagles for 2014 is under consideration as Darren Glass is contracted for this season only under a one-year extension that he deliberated over late in 2013. Glass has stated he is prepared to step down if it is best for the club's future but he is so revered by the playing group that if they were asked to vote, he would probably be returned as skipper. Scott Selwood looms as the long-term replacement and has been groomed over the last couple of years but new coach Adam Simpson is keen to explore all options. If it's not Selwood, the next captain could well be Josh Kennedy. A natural leader, Kennedy is 26 and will be a pillar of the Eagles' forward line for a number of years to come. Matt Priddis is another well-respected leader at the Eagles but at 28 he won't have the longevity of either Selwood or Kennedy. – Alex Malcolm

The club has already made a change to its leadership for 2014, with Ryan Griffen taking over the captaincy from Matthew Boyd. The Dogs have taken a unique approach to leadership in the past, opting against a chosen group to support the captain in 2013. The move worked well in that it encouraged young players and quieter types to speak up, uncovering potentially overlooked leadership qualities. The club is yet to decide if it will put a leadership group in place to support Griffen in his first season at the helm. Even if it opts not to, an unofficial group will be there for Griffen to bounce ideas off. Boyd is still expected to help lead the team, as are the rest of the senior group, but already youngsters like Jackson Macrae are showing leadership qualities for the club to look forward to in future years. – Jacqui Reed
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs