Newly reappointed Essendon captain Dyson Heppell says he’s empowered to lead his teammates again as he looks to put a challenging 2020 behind him.
Heppell was this week voted by his peers to lead the Bombers for a fifth successive season, with joint vice-captains Michael Hurley, Zach Merrett and Andrew McGrath supporting him in a streamlined leadership group.
The 28-year-old said it was a promising time to be at the helm.
“Knowing that I’ve got the trust and respect from the playing group, I feel really comfortable jumping into the role again. I’ve been developing my leadership over the past four years and feel I’m entering a phase where I’m really comfortable in the role and happy to take the reins for another year,” Heppell told the media on Thursday.
“I’m feeling awesome about my footy and the footy club in general. I’ve come back in a refreshed state of mind, and even coming back around the boys and seeing the energy from them has rubbed off on me a helluva lot. The energy around the place is awesome.
“I’m super excited for the season ahead and to keep growing with the group.”
With ankle issues restricting him to just three games in 2020, Heppell admitted to “pretty flat days” while enduring a disappointing season from the sidelines.
But with the pain gone and a round one return in his sights, he said he was confident of a change of fortunes.
“I’ve had a bit going on … There are certainly phases where it (injury) eats away at you. You have some pretty flat days, because you’re used to just being able to run pain-free and enjoy your footy. When it stays there for a prolonged period of time, it certainly chews you up,” Heppell said.
“Coming out the other side of it, now that I’ve got a pain-free ankle it certainly makes me a lot happier.
“I’ve been super pleased with the progress of it, and hopefully I’ll keep progressing my workload over the next few weeks and start integrating with the main group this week.
“It’s (round one) certainly on the cards for me. If there are no hiccups going forward, I’ll be right to go.”
The Bombers will face Geelong (GMHBA Stadium, February 18) and Greater Western Sydney (Manuka Oval, March 5) in pre-season before their round one clash with Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium on March 20.