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BARRETT: Goodwin's captain call pays dividends

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 21:  Jack Viney and Nathan Jones of the Demons  lead their team out for warm up during the round nine AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 21, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images/AFL Media)
Melbourne's co-captaincy with Jack Viney and Nathan Jones is working perfectly
I don't think he feels pain
Dom Tyson on Jack Viney

THE EASY decision for Simon Goodwin in February was to leave Nathan Jones as sole Melbourne captain. 

The easy decision was to make Jack Viney vice-captain beneath Jones for 2017, with the view to elevating Viney to the main post next year.

Jones had done nothing wrong in his two full seasons as Demons skipper, a role he was given after three consecutive best-and-fairest awards. Viney was a 22-year-old with 70 games to his name. Memories at the Demons were still fresh of the disastrous Jack Trengove-Jack Grimes youthful captaincy arrangement.

But Goodwin, himself having just shed the "in-waiting" component of his own senior coaching credentials, was desperate to remove the same tag from Viney's captaincy qualities.

Viney, Goodwin alone felt, was no longer a future captain, but one for today.

As with all big decisions, it was a risk, but one that has already positively shaped this exciting season for the Demons.

In a season that could have unfolded badly on the back of serious injuries to key players and undisciplined acts by others, Viney's ability to lead his players to a 10-7 season and well within finals contention is full justification of Goodwin's boldness.

There have been numerous issues for Viney to lead the Demons through, including All Australian ruckman Max Gawn missing nine matches with a ripped hamstring, Angus Brayshaw managing just two matches largely due to concussion, Jack Watts missing key matches with a hamstring problem and Jesse Hogan dealing with the death of his father as well as having surgery for testicular cancer.

And Hogan has clearly and understandably been way below his best in the seven games he has played.

Bernie Vince has had some inexplicable disciplinary brain fades in matches, too, costing him Match Review Panel suspensions, as did Hogan and Jordan Lewis early in the season. Clayton Oliver has been playing fantastic football, but has been distracted at times in bizarre circumstances.

That Viney missed just two matches from serious surgery to repair plantar fascia damage in his foot, having initially been told he would be sidelined for six weeks, was near-miraculous.

So too was his ability to have a major impact in his return, last Saturday against Port Adelaide at the MCG, where he accumulated a match-high 10 clearances, seven tackles and 25 disposals.

"I don't think he feels pain," said teammate Dom Tyson.

In Viney's very first game in Melbourne colours, a VFL game at Kardinia Park in 2012 before he was drafted as a father-son selection later that year, he broke his jaw in a clash with the seasoned David Wojcinski. In the lead-up to that inevitable collision, he didn't flinch.

So driven to success is Viney that his headstrong ways have required intervention at times, and a series of run-with roles in 2015 significantly helped his leadership development, particularly a match-winning effort against Joel Selwood at Simonds Stadium. He more than held his own in the sledging contest that day, too.

Jack Viney and Joel Selwood had a private war in 2015 at Simonds Stadium. Picture: AFL Photos

Midway through 2014, the first of three seasons in which Paul Roos was coach of Melbourne, it was determined by the Demons board that Goodwin would take over for the 2017 season.

As that time got closer, Goodwin sought to shape Melbourne his way, including a greater focus on an attacking style of play.

When he officially took over, he recruited aggressively, with Michael Hibberd and Lewis added to the list in October.

He knew at that time what he wanted to do with Viney, but waited until the Christmas break, and then a bit longer, just to be sure.

In February, he had the difficult conversation with Jones, a justifiably proud footballer who was initially disappointed but very quickly embraced the new arrangement.

Fresh coach, one old captain, one new one. It's a finals-bound combination.

Twitter: @barrettdamian