Essendon VFL has announced its 2021 leadership group ahead of its season opener against Brisbane on Saturday, with Danny Younan and newcomer Joe Atley to lead as co-captains.

The pair are joined in the four-man contingent by 27-year-old Josh Tynan and recruit Kyle Dunkley, who played five AFL games across two seasons for Melbourne.

The leadership group, which was announced at Monday night’s jumper presentation at the NEC Hangar, features a mix of old and new faces.

03:48 Mins
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VFL | 2021 season launch

We spoke to co-captains Joe Atley and Danny Younan at the 2021 VFL season launch.

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Younan, 28, arrived at the Bombers in 2017 and has since continued to make a positive impact on the team, which paid off in 2019 when he was awarded the role of vice-captain.

On being announced as co-captain for this year, Younan said the opportunity was something he would be forever grateful for, and that he was aiming to continue his energetic leadership style.

“It’s a great feeling. I’m obviously humbled, and I feel grateful and privileged to be able to captain such a historic football club and to be able to take it off Aaron Heppell who was our previous captain,” Younan said.

“I think I’ll try to create as much energy as I can in the group, but my aim is to get the most out of every individual in this group. It is a young crew, and I wanna see them get the best out of themselves.”

Younan has been an ever-present in the Bombers' VFL line-up since 2017. (Photo: AFL Photos)

Not being able to play football last year due to COVID-19 was tough for Younan, so the forward said he was looking forward to getting back into it this year in an expanded 22-team VFL competition which includes teams from New South Wales and Queensland.

“Footy has always been an outlet, so to be able to get back to training and then get back into games and obviously [with] round one around the corner, I’m very, very excited,” he said.

“I think it (expanded VFL competition) creates a great opportunity to create a bit of team bonding, so we’re very excited to be able to fly interstate. We don't know what it's gonna hold for us, what the days are gonna look like. I guess everyone will just take it as it comes and enjoy the process.”

Atley joins the VFL Bombers after spending the last four years in South Australia where he played four AFL games for Port Adelaide. 

Returning to his home state but not knowing anyone on the team, the younger brother of North Melbourne’s Shaun Atley said he was honoured to be chosen as co-captain.

Atley during his Port Adelaide days. (Photo: AFL Photos)

“[I’m] absolutely pumped that the boys and the coach and the staff have chosen me and Danny and the two other boys as well. I’m obviously honoured and I can't wait to get back into it,” Atley said.

“I’m really excited to get started here and play with this group of boys that I've got to know over the past six months.

“A lot of people lead by action and I’m a caring person. I like to help people out and [do] whatever I can do off-field, and Danny’s the same as well, so I think a combination of me and him will be really good this year.”

The Bombers will open their 2021 VFL season against the Brisbane Lions from 12pm at the Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex, with the game streamed live and free on Kayo.

Click here to tune in.