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Goddard to lead Bombers, Baguley as deputy

Captain Goddard to help pick up pieces Bombers announce 2016 leaders
I'll need a lot of help, I'll make mistakes along the way, particularly with the demographics we do have in our group
Brendon Goddard

BRENDON Goddard says he's prepared to temper his demanding leadership style with his young teammates after being appointed Essendon captain for 2016.

The 30-year-old former Saint will take the reins from suspended skipper Jobe Watson, with small defender Mark Baguley named as his deputy as the decimated Bombers embark on an extraordinary season.

Goddard was always the heir apparent to Watson after the Court of Arbitration for Sport wiped out five of the Bombers' seven-man leadership group last week when it slapped season-long bans on 12 Dons players.

The veteran midfielder has been an ultra-consistent performer since his defection from St Kilda at the end of 2012, and has also brought his strong and demonstrative leadership to his new club.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Goddard wished he was never put in the situation where he had to step up in Watson's absence, but he's ready to adapt his leadership to suit the unique situation. 

"I won't lie to you … standing in front of you today is the last place I really wanted to be – I think that's quite obvious considering the circumstances," Goddard said.

"Although I'm very honoured and grateful to now captain the footy club and this group, you obviously wish it was under different circumstances.

"I've said it before and gone on file as saying I know the areas I need to improve. Like all of us, we need a lot of help. I'll need a lot of help, I'll make mistakes along the way, particularly with the demographics we do have in our group.

"So I think it's only natural that we all have to change the way we lead and try to improve in different areas."

Despite the Bombers being widely tipped to win the wooden spoon this season, Goddard said 2016 was an opportunity for the club to find a silver lining after the devastating blow from CAS.

"We are finding our feet, we're still picking up the pieces. There is somewhat of a grieving process to go through and I think that's only natural," Goddard said.

"I think we're smart enough to not talk about wins and losses (this year). At the end of the day, that's what it's about, but for us it's just about improving, it's about getting better, it's about creating our own history.

"We're all looking forward to picking the club back up and getting it back on its feet. I think the guys are really looking forward to the challenge."

Baguley, 28, was elevated into the leadership group for the first time in December and the former rookie said he would do his best to guide his teammates after being thrust into the vice-captaincy.

"It's a great opportunity for myself and Brendon to lead the club and it's going to be a great opportunity for the young players," he said.
"Obviously (the CAS verdict) is pretty fresh in our minds still, but we're trying to move on as best we can, stay in regular contact with our teammates and just try and do them proud and do our club proud."

Essendon's new leadership group will be announced in the coming weeks, with the club's focus on replenishing its list on top-up players.

Former Geelong premiership hero James Kelly and ex-Hawks midfielder Jonathan Simpkin trained with the Bombers squad on Friday.

Coach John Worsfold said the Dons were "very close" to announcing more signings and didn't rule out top-up players becoming part of the leadership group.

"We've really only got officially one addition (Ryan Crowley) to our list at the moment … so as we build that group and officially sign those guys there will be some great leadership and experience in that group," he said.

"But we also have guys like Matt Leuenberger, Adam Cooney and Craig Bird … they'll offer great leadership as well."