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Bombers bolster leadership group

Essendon Football Club has today confirmed its player leadership group for the 2013 season.

New recruit Brendon Goddard, Jason Winderlich and Dyson Heppell have all been elevated into the group which also includes reigning Brownlow Medallist and captain Jobe Watson, Brent Stanton, Heath Hocking, Michael Hurley and David Zaharakis.

Senior coach James Hird said the additions of Goddard, Winderlich and Heppell was a terrific recognition from their peers of their dedication and leadership.

“It is incredibly pleasing to see Brendon, Jason and Dyson being elevated in to the leadership group for next season,” Hird said.

“We have no doubt that our young playing list will significantly benefit from both Brendon and Jason’s leadership skills and experience in the game.

“It is particularly encouraging to see Dyson being elevated in to the leadership group at such a young age and it is a real credit to the way he has handled himself in his time at the club.

“We believe that we have a reasonable spread of both youth and experience and we are delighted that this group, led by Jobe, will be guiding our players both on and off the field in the 2013 season,” he said.

Goddard was drafted by St Kilda from the Gippsland Power in the 2002 National Draft at pick number one and made his AFL debut in 2003. Among his accolades, the two-time All Australian utility came second in St Kilda’s best and fairest in 2009 and third in 2010. In the drawn 2010 AFL Grand Final, Goddard finished second in the voting for the Norm Smith Medal behind former teammate Lenny Hayes. The 27-year-old has played 205 games and booted 104 goals.

Winderlich arrived at Windy Hill after being taken at No.11 overall in the 2002 National AFL Draft from the Gippsland Power. Providing exceptional pace and skill for the Bombers, the 28-year-old finished third in the club’s best and fairest in 2010. A slow recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2011 resulted in the forward only managing two games this year. Winderlich has played 100 games for the red and black and booted 51 goals.

Heppell, 20 made his debut in 2011 after being recruited from the Gippsland Power with Essendon’s first-round selection (No.8 overall) in 2010. Stationed mostly of half-back, Heppell played every game in 2011 and averaged 21 disposals. He was the clu’s first winner of the NAB AFL Rising Star award and was also voted the AFLPA’s Best First-Year player.  This year, Heppell capped off a brilliant season by being voted the league’s Best Young Player by the AFL Coaches Association as well as placing second behind Brownlow Medallist Jobe Watson at the club’s best and fairest. He has played 43 games for the red and black and booted six goals.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs