Introducing your '22 leaders 🌟 pic.twitter.com/OUwNAbeI7W
— Essendon FC (@essendonfc) February 22, 2022
Heppell has served as Bombers captain ever since taking the reins from Jobe Watson in 2017, while Merrett will be a feature of the club's leadership group for the second year in a row. The 26-year-old has previously skippered the team, becoming the third-youngest player to captain a side in Essendon's 2016 Round 21 match against Gold Coast.
The 2021 best and fairest award winner also signed a long-term deal last season, committing him to the club until at least the end of 2027.
Former no.1 draft pick McGrath has been rewarded for his leadership efforts with a second consecutive year in the group. The 23-year-old has starred in his early career both on and off the field, with the club viewing the young gun as a long-term potential leader.
Michael Hurley, who was part of the four-man group in 2021, won't join the leadership team in 2022 as he continues to recover from a hip injury.