Club captains are one of the most important positions in footy. With the news this week that Pies legend Scott Pendlebury will again skipper the club, followed by Saints warrior Jarryn Geary stepping down, the big calls have already begun.
Every year, changes are made in this crucial role, good leadership is the foundation for success. Naturally, it comes with heavy scrutiny.
For some clubs, it's a much more common debate, others are fortunate enough to have a clear standout. It got us thinking, which clubs are facing a dilemma? Who should stay the course, and who could benefit from a change? Which clubs should 'stick' and which clubs should 'twist'?
The Hawks are ushering in a new era. Without Alistair Clarkson for the first time in more than a decade, change is afoot. With a new coach is likely to come a new game plan.
Perhaps it's too much to throw in a new captain as well, however, why not wholly embrace it? Shoes the size of Clarko's will be hard to fill, yet Sam Mitchell won't shy away from that.
James Sicily is cut from a similar cloth and has long been spoken about as a future captain. There's no doubting Ben McEvoy is still up to it, having been such a dependable player for years. However, passing the baton to Sicily while he can still call on the leadership of 'Big Boy' could benefit all parties.
For one more year. Nat Fyfe has led with aplomb for a while now. Having experienced his fair share of injury problems recently however, the time to hand over the reigns is fast approaching.
David Mundy is enjoying an Indian Summer, combined with Fyfe, now is the perfect time for the two of them to prepare young gun Andrew Brayshaw for the role from 2023 onward.
Leadership seems to suit some players well, likewise, some players lift when leadership is thrust upon them. From what we've seen so far of Brayshaw, it's not a stretch to say he'd be a good fit for the role.
There's no debating that Rory Sloane is one of the AFL's great people. But like so many others in his position, injury has never been far in recent years. Added to that, the Crows are rebuilding.
Although confirmed for 2022, now seems the ideal time to prep the next generation of leaders. Tom Doedee looms as the best fit and could use Sloane's experience to help mentor him for a couple of years.
The upside for Sloane is the chance to focus on his fitness and leave the club in good hands for a future tilt at a flag.
Like their counterparts across the bridge, the Swans have a conundrum on their hands. As with GWS, three captains, as quality as they all are, seems to dilute the importance of the role.
Luke Parker, fresh from re-signing with the club for a further four years, appears to be the ideal candidate. A consummate professional who clearly has influence over the playing group, this one is a no-brainer.
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That's not to discount the importance of Dane Rampe or Josh Kennedy, rather, to free them up to focus on their crucial roles as the Swans seek to crack the top four.
North's young list is coming along nicely, with a couple of options waiting in the wings to lead their quest back to finals. That being said, Jack Ziebell has done a fine job as captain and is back playing good footy.
With several years left in the tank, now would be a good time to keep Ziebell in the top job, while working in the background to get someone like Jy Simpkin ready to lead.
Likewise, Luke McDonald is another candidate to take over, putting the Kangaroos in an enviable position where time is on their side. Season 2022 looms as the chance for an audition of sorts for whoever takes over at Arden St.
Perhaps the most talked about over the summer, the Blues' captaincy role is being closely monitored. With Sam Docherty understandably stepping down to focus on his health, others are whispering that Patrick Cripps should follow suit.
Having largely carried the Blues for several years now, the feeling is Cripps should go once more. Sam Walsh and Jacob Weitering have both emerged as genuine leaders in recent times.
For now, it's best to leave the big man in charge, allowing Walsh and Weitering to develop further. Come 2023, the Blues can usher in part two of their new era under Michael Voss. Hopefully this will allow Cripps to finally rest his weary back.
The Eagles are rolling the dice again, looking to squeeze another flag tilt from this current crop. Viewed through that lens, it's even more important that Luke Shuey be fit and firing.
Given his injury struggles in 2021, freeing him of the burden of leadership so that he can focus fully on fitness makes sense. Shuey was their best player when they won the flag in 2018, his presence is crucial.
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With plenty of options in players like Nic Naitanui or Elliott Yeo, the Eagles face a tricky decision. Admittedly, the best options to take the reigns have also had injury struggles so it's crucial that the Eagles get it right.
If fit, Yeo seems the best option in terms of sheer influence, skill and lmpact. West Coast will be an interesting watch in this space.