DAVID Zaharakis' omission from Essendon's leadership group for the second time in three seasons shouldn't take away from his growth in that area, according to captain Jobe Watson.
Zaharakis was not a part of the seven-man group unveiled by the Bombers on Friday, with Brent Stanton and the retired Paul Chapman the other players to be left out.
Michael Hurley, having already been in and out of the leadership group earlier in his career, was voted in, alongside fellow defender Mark Baguley, and Watson said he would discuss the situation with Zaharakis.
"I think David's made huge bounds in his leadership and I think the players appreciate there's probably a group of 10 or so who could've been in the leadership group," Watson said.
"But for this year we welcome in 'Hurls' and Mark Baguley."
Zaharakis and Hurley were added to the leadership group after their impressive 2011 seasons, when Zaharakis won the best and fairest and Hurley finished third.
But they were both out of the leadership positions for 2014, before Zaharakis won his place back for 2015.
However, the 25-year-old midfielder lasted just a year in his second stint in the group.
Essendon's leadership group for next season will comprise Watson as skipper, vice-captain Dyson Heppell, David Myers, Brendon Goddard, Cale Hooker, Hurley and Baguley.
Coach John Worsfold said the club canvassed the views of all its players before deciding its leaders for next season.
"They rated every player on the list in five criteria and we then looked at who led each criteria and then tallied up the total votes," Worsfold said.
"Across the five criteria, the leadership group were the standout players and obviously Jobe was a big part of that."
Watson was 24 when he was appointed Matthew Lloyd's successor as Essendon captain, and has since said he took on the job too young.
Heppell is seen as the Bombers' captain-in-waiting, but Watson said he didn't consider the emerging star's age (he turns 24 next May) when making a call on whether he should put his hand up to captain another year.
"I didn't think too much about what Dyson's plans were. He's a tremendous leader and I think he's continued to blossom ever since he walked in the door. He's had great attributes for leadership, you see the way he plays and prepares himself," Watson said.
"I was just worried about what my teammates felt. I haven't got a foresight into what the plan looks like. We'll just enjoy the year and worry about it at the end of 2016."