We have gone through the list of every AFL club and researched what players fit the best to be the next-in-line leader to take your team to the next level. Those on this list we think are the right players to be captain not immediately, but whenever the time is right for the current captain to step down.
Who is a good enough player to lead your side? Who is marketable? And who represents the values of your team the best?
A member of the 2019 Crows leadership group, Matt Crouch has already proven himself as a damaging ball winner with leadership qualities. The 24-year-old could follow on from Rory Sloane to reinvigorate a rebuilding Adelaide Crows side under Matthew Nicks.
As Dayne Zorko is still early into his captaincy run, young midfielder Jarrod Berry looks to be the perfect replacement for the superstar Zorko. Catching the eye of Brisbane recruiters in 2017, through his leadership and endurance, Berry will be a massive contributor for the Lions down the track.
Carlton: Sam Walsh
Already praised for his skill, hard running and professionalism, Sam Walsh looks to be the likely replacement for Patrick Cripps and Sam Docherty when they step down as co-captains. The former No.1 draft pick had a brilliant debut season for the Blues and is one of the most exciting young players in the competition.
Taylor Adams is one of the toughest players running around. He is a member of the Pies’ leadership group and has performed in big games. With Scott Pendlebury coming to the twilight of his career and presumably entering his 7th season as captain, Adams is the ideal replacement. Adams resembles and follows on from past hard-nosed Collingwood captains in Nathan Buckley, Nick Maxwell and Tony Shaw.
The half-backman nicknamed ‘Pigeon’ despite his age can be the perfect fit to replace Dyson Heppell as captain. When the time comes for Heppell to hand over the reigns, McGrath will be old enough to step in to lead the Bombers. Already lauded for his leadership and footy IQ, the former first pick may become the face of the club.
The 24-year-old is a current member of Fremantle’s leadership group, and Pearce looks to step up his game after coming back from a broken ankle he sustained in 2019. By directing the flow of play from the backline, Pearce would be a great fit to be captain when Nat Fyfe steps aside.
Geelong: Tom Stewart
Tom Stewart was noticed by Cats great Matthew Scarlett when the pair played for South Barwon and ever since he pulled on the boots for Geelong, Stewart has looked right at home. The 26-year-old has already caught the eye of Geelong teammates through his on-field leadership and composure.
Perhaps unlucky to miss out on captaincy in the past, Touk Miller fits the mould of someone who should represent the Suns in the future. Tough around the contest with elite work rate has put him amongst the leadership group of an extremely young Gold Coast squad.
With the recent appointment of Stephen Coniglio taking over as a standalone captain, it’s expected to be a long time until the next leader takes the reigns. Jacob Hopper, who is currently 22 years old captained the NSW/ACT Rams before he started his AFL career. One of the very few serviceable performers on Grand Final day for the Giants, Hopper should have leadership aspirations in his sights.
Hawthorn: Jaeger O’Meara
The 25-year-old is an active member of the Hawks’ leadership group and is also an elite ball winner. O’Meara had a delayed start to his AFL career with a debilitating knee injury but has recently found a consistent stretch of form in the midfield. O’Meara can potentially join the club of Hawthorn midfielders who have led the club in champions such as Luke Hodge and Sam Mitchell. O’Meara is already quite a marketable player as he speaks well, has a unique name and plays with silky skills.
Melbourne: Max Gawn
After a tumultuous 2019 season, a new captain may be the fresh start they need. Max Gawn looks to be the most popular and influential player at Melbourne, hence why he would be a perfect replacement for Jack Viney — given he steps down.
He is one of the curve balls on this list, but Trent Dumont would be a great choice as the next Kangaroos captain. The 24-year-old from South Australia is a member of the leadership group and plays with the toughness of a Shinboner.
There is seemingly a lot of time to go with the co-captaincy arrangement of Tom Jonas and Ollie Wines, therefore Darcy Byrne-Jones may be the next captain. By the time the pair of captains step down, Byrne-Jones will be a hardened defender for the Power. Byrne-Jones has also had experience in big games such as the 2014 SANFL Grand Final.
Richmond: Nick Vlaustin
The reigning premiers have had an outstanding past three years and the defence has a lot to do with that. Nick Vlaustin has been instrumental down there with teammates such as; Alex Rance and Dylan Grimes. He is well spoken, likable and is an elite defender. Cotchin seems to be entering his 7th consecutive season as captain, however, the day he steps aside, Vlaustin would be the perfect candidate to fit the role.
St Kilda: Seb Ross
The consistent onballer looks to be the obvious choice if skipper Jarryn Geary hands over the reigns. Currently the Saints’ vice-captain, Ross would follow in the footsteps of Geary as being highly regarded and respected at Moorabbin.
Currently a part of a trio of co-captains, Luke Parker should be the standalone skipper when the time comes. Already fueled with leadership and premiership experience, the goal-kicking and crafty mid would represent the ‘bloods culture’ to perfection.
The news only came through Wednesday afternoon that premiership captain Shannon Hurn has quit as captain, and although his replacement is yet to be decided, Jeremy McGovern firms as the ideal man to lead the Eagles into 2020 and beyond. Coming from a backline of leaders, McGovern is one of the big generals who not only leads by example but loves to direct traffic from behind the play. The 27-year-old was impressive in the 2018 Grand Final which proves he is a big-game performer.
One of the clearer choices on this list. Bontempelli is already one of the young champions of the game with a CV that already includes a premiership and All Australian honours. Very well spoken, marketable and a fan favourite — Marcus Bontempelli needs to be the next leader of the pack down at Whitten Oval.