Two-time and reigning R.A Freeman Medallist Aaron Heppell has been appointed captain of Essendon’s VFL side for 2019.
The 24-year-old played a starring role in the Bombers’ run to a preliminary final in 2018, averaging 20 disposals, five tackles and four clearances from his 21 games.
He was rewarded with selection at half-back in the VFL Team of the Year, and has stood out to senior coach Dan Jordan this pre-season.
“In his five seasons at the Bombers, Aaron’s been a mainstay and highly respected member of our squad,” Jordan said.
“He was our vice-captain last year and has been working hard on developing his leadership, which he really wants to take to the next level. He’s ready to embrace this opportunity.”
Since making his VFL debut for the red and black in 2014, Heppell has become one of the league's most exciting midfielder-defenders.
The younger brother of current Essendon AFL skipper Dyson, this season will be Heppell’s first time leading the VFL group as captain.
Aaron Heppell took out the Bombers' VFL best and fairest after a stellar 2018. (Photo: AFL Media)
He will be supported by vice-captains Heath Hocking and Danny Younan, with new signings Kurt Aylett (Werribee) and Liam McKenna (Perth Demons) completing the leadership group.
The players were voted by their peers based on how they live the club’s values and behaviours, with the process finalised at a recent pre-season camp in Mount Evelyn.
Jordan praised Hocking for his decision to selflessly step down from the captaincy he held last season.
“The decision speaks volumes of Heath’s character and integrity, and the esteem with which he is held in the VFL program,” he said.
“He will be an invaluable asset to ‘Hepp’ (Heppell) as a mentor, and continue to have a profound impact on our program as a player and a person in 2019.”
Essendon will kick-start its 2019 VFL campaign on Sunday, April 7 against Frankston at Skybus Stadium.
Brooke Varney is in the final year of her Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) degree at RMIT University. As part of their strategic partnership, Essendon Football Club and RMIT University are committed to providing opportunities for students, staff, players and the wider community.