Essendon has announced its new-look leadership group, with two players set to feature in the five-man group for the first time.
2017 All Australian Dylan Shiel and 2018 Crichton medallist Devon Smith have been elevated into the group, while Michael Hurley and David Zaharakis also formally return to the group in season 2020, with both men first entering the Bombers’ leadership group in 2011.
The experienced quartet will support captain Dyson Heppell, who was unanimously endorsed in December to continue as captain for a fourth straight year.
General manager of football Dan Richardson said the maturity and experience of all five players - who have combined for 850 games - would support the evolution and growth of the club culture.
“We have a very caring group of leaders who, with their teammates, are all committed to setting the culture both on and off the field,” Richardson said.
“The entire playing group went through a thorough voting process to determine the formal leaders and it is a really positive sign that the depth of leadership throughout the playing list is growing.
“Dyson continually sets a wonderful example and will be capably supported by Devon, Dylan, Michael and David this season. Throughout this process, Dyson was voted by his peers as the overwhelming leader across all applicable criteria, which is a notable achievement.
“This elevation is also a terrific opportunity for both Devon and Dylan, who have integrated seamlessly into the club since they arrived. Both men lead by example with their professionalism and have a strong on-field presence.
“Between David and Michael, they have nearly 400 senior AFL games of experience and our younger players benefit greatly from their exposure to the game over the past 12 years. Both David and Michael are ‘heart and soul’ players who are completely committed to the growth of the group and what we’re trying to collectively achieve.
“This experienced leadership group will be instrumental in supporting the connection between the players themselves, the coaching group and the club more broadly.”