Succeeding Jobe Watson as the Bombers skipper, the 24-year old has been tasked with leading the club into a new age and helping Essendon put last year’s disappointments behind them.
Former skipper Watson was one of 34 current and former Bombers who missed the entire 2016 campaign, 10 of which are returning to action this season.
While he will remain a part of the seven-man leadership group this season, alongside last year’s stand-in captain, Brendon Goddard, it will be Heppell who leads the team out at the start of the new campaign. Michael Hurley and Joe Daniher will also make up part of the group with Cale Hooker and Zach Merrett named as vice-captain completing the leadership party. On the back of a turbulent year, Heppell and his group of captains will be crucial to trying to reinstall some sense of order and consistency to a team that finished bottom of the AFL ladder with just three wins to their name in 2016.
Ever since making his senior debut back in 2011, Happell has racked up 106 appearances for the Bombers, earning a promotion to vice-captain after establishing himself as key part of Essendon’s team.
Now eligible to return to action, Heppell has a job on his hands to try and lead the team back into the finals at the first time of asking.
Watson is one of a host of players now preparing to return to the field after a 12-month absence, but he won’t be leading the team out as skipper this time around, instead providing support to new captain Happell.
With so many key players back available, the Bombers find themselves with odds of 28/1 of winning a 17th title according to http://extra.bet365.com.au/NEWS/en/.
Forced to play a significantly weakened squad last year, Essendon and their fans will be fully focused on putting their recent disappointments, not to mention embarrassments, firmly behind them and rewarding those supporters for sticking by them during a very tough time in the club’s history.
While success this season would probably be securing a top-eight finish, there is nothing to stop the Bombers from making a real impression this year now they have 10 key players back in contention.
Merrett earns his promotion to vice-captain following a sensational season last year. Despite playing in a significantly weakened team, the youngster showed just why many people think he’s one of the league’s most talented young players.
The 21-year-old burst on the scene in 2016 as an all-star midfielder, really stepping up and performing when his team needed him, appearing in every game on his way to the best-and-fairest award.
While he won’t be relied upon as much in 2017 as he was last year, Merrett will still have a big role to play as the Bombers look to bounce