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New Bombers skipper? There's an obvious choice

Peter Ryan  January 13, 2016 7:00 AM

Footy Feed special: the Essendon verdict Matt Thompson wraps up one of the biggest days in the history of the AFL

• Eight burning questions about the bans
• What the Dons' round one team could look like
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ESSENDON now needs a captain for 2016.

And that captain should be Brendon Goddard.

It's not a mantle the 30-year-old will want, given the circumstances in which the position has become vacant, but he is the sensible and logical stand-in for the suspended Jobe Watson.

There is no rush to bestow the title on him, given everyone is still dissecting the harsh penalty his teammates received, but he would make an excellent stand-in skipper.

Experienced, passionate and honest, he has nailed his colours to the Bombers' mast in the past three seasons, articulating the situation within the club better than most and performing on-field too.

He has only missed two games in his three seasons with the Bombers and finished no lower than fifth in the club's best and fairest in that time, winning the award in his first season at the club in 2013.

Dismiss the criticism by former teammate Paul Chapman that lent publicity to his book.

Goddard knows himself, his game, the club and the truth of what he needs to work on to communicate effectively – and those at the club know he will do a good job.

His optimism for what lay ahead in 2016 when he spoke in New York during the International Rules Series was genuine, and his relationship with players within that group in that time showed his maturity and charisma.

Sadly, some of the optimism he expressed in November will have taken a jolt but he is a fighter, at his best when staring down the opposition, and he can handle pressure.

It's worth noting the options at Essendon are far from endless with the Court of Arbitration for Sport having a devastating effect on Essendon's leadership stocks.

Of the seven-man leadership group announced in December, only Goddard and Mark Baguley remain eligible to play in 2016.  

Baguley is highly regarded internally but he has not got the experience to cope with his every public utterance being dissected to within an inch of its life during this period when the club is under the spotlight.

David Zaharakis is the only other player left with the class and experience close to those two but he has not cemented a place within the leadership group despite his talent.

Sources at Essendon suggest Goddard appears the most obvious choice and would do a good job.

Craig Bird, Matthew Leuenberger and Adam Cooney are old hands but they are new to the club (Cooney arrived for the 2015 season, a year before the other two) and will be required to lend support roles rather than being the skipper.

Grooming players such as Joe Daniher and Zach Merrett – two of the best young leaders at the club - has merit too but their public exposure should be limited to enable them to grow those skills in a near-normal manner. 

Goddard has a chance – albeit unwanted and uncalled for – to stamp himself in 2016 as the player and person those close to him know him to be: a competitor with the ability to lead men through adversity.