SHANNON Hurn is emerging as a leading candidate to take over the West Coast captaincy permanently given the way his teammates and coach speak of his leadership.
The 26-year-old defender reaches a significant milestone on Saturday when he plays his 150th match, against Essendon at Etihad Stadium.
The South Australian is well known for his kicking exploits coming out of the Eagles' defence. His ability to find teammates over 65m is feared throughout the AFL and made him a target of opposition coaches.
Since the retirement of Darren Glass earlier this season, Hurn has emerged from being a relatively unheralded member of the Eagles' leadership group to a potential long-term skipper.
Coach Adam Simpson elected to rotate the captaincy between Hurn, Josh Kennedy, Matt Priddis and Eric Mackenzie following Glass' retirement and all have thrived in the role.
However Hurn's emergence has been the most notable. His coach described him as one of the smartest footballers on the Eagles list and while Simpson played down those comments this week, he did not shy away from Hurn's leadership value.
"I don't want him getting ahead of himself with his footy smarts but he's very confident in his own ability," Simpson said.
"He understands the game and reads the play well. I've spoken a couple of times about how I want the players to identify situations game-day and how we can change things and (how) they can change (things) themselves.
"And he's leading that. Our backs in general have been pretty good in the last month at identifying different cues and reading different situations. So he's at the front of that at the moment."
Eagles defender Will Schofield said he was a fan of Hurn's leadership style.
"Shannon's a real thinker," Schofield said.
"He loves his footy and he gives really smart, direct feedback. I like that about him."
Hurn said he is very proud of achieving life membership at the club and believes the captaincy would be an even greater honour that he would cherish, however he thinks there are plenty of worthy candidates.
Hurn said he is simply following the impeccable standards set by Glass during his years as skipper.
"Glassy was so good, and it's so important (to provide a voice)," Hurn said.
"It's understanding the game style, getting confidence in yourself as well. It's not so much you want to be a traffic cop out there, but it's just helping with the set-ups and encouragement, and making sure everyone's going well."