MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 19: Dyson Heppell of the Bombers (C) leads the team out during the round nine AFL match between the Essendon Bombers and the Geelong Cats at Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 19, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Essendon has announced their leadership group ahead of the 2020 season, with four changes made from their 2019 crop

2017 All-Australian Dylan Shiel and 2018 best and fairest winner Devon Smith have been added to the new-look leadership group, while club veterans Michael Hurley and David Zaharakis have returned to the group after some time.

This news comes after the club announced that Dyson Heppell was unanimously selected by the playing group for the fourth-straight season in December.

The more experienced group – with over 850 games of experience – comes after the Bombers experimented with a more youthful leadership group in the 2019 season.

Last year’s best and fairest winner Zach Merrett is the shock omission from the leadership group despite captaining the Bombers sox times last season in Heppell’s absence.

After both being heavily involved in trade talk during the off-season, forward duo Joe Daniher and Orazio Fantasia have also been replaced while fifth member David Myers retired.

Essendon’s general manager of football Dan Richardson spoke about the impact he hopes the more experienced group will bring to the club.

“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 told essendonfc.con.au.

“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.”