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Gibbs still a leader at Carlton despite Crows trade bid


Carlton star Bryce Gibbs’ aborted bid to join the Crows in the AFL off-season has not cost him his place in Carlton’s leadership group.

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Despite a high-profile bid to return to Adelaide, Gibbs has retained his place in the seven-man group, with midfield star Marc Murphy hanging on to the reins as captain.

Veteran Kade Simpson will be his deputy, while Dennis Armfield will be among the club’s leaders for the first time in his career, alongside Patrick Cripps, Sam Docherty and Ed Curnow.

Coach Brendon Bolton said the club was “sticking to the roadmap and ensuring there is a consistent level of leadership across the board”.

“With only one change to our leadership group for 2017, we are building on the foundations that were set last season,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dyson Heppell is the new Essendon AFL captain, replacing fellow formerly-banned Bomber Jobe Watson in the role following months of speculation.

Cale Hooker and youngster Zach Merrett are vice-captains, while Watson and last year’s stand-in captain Brendon Goddard remain in a seven-man leadership group, along with Michael Hurley and Joe Daniher.

Heppell, the No.8 pick in the 2010 draft, has played 106 games since his 2011 senior debut.

He was vice-captain under Watson before they were among 34 current and past Essendon players to receive doping bans last year because of the club’s supplements debacle.

Of those players, Heppell and Watson are among 10 players who are now back at Essendon for this season.

New captain Dyson Heppell and Essendon's 2017 leadership group at training today. Photo: Tracey Nearmy / AAP

New captain Dyson Heppell and Essendon’s 2017 leadership group at training today. Photo: Tracey Nearmy / AAP

In 2014, 24-year-old Heppell won the club best and fairest award and was an All-Australian selection.

Watson captained the Bombers from 2010 until last year’s bans, with Brendon Goddard then taking over for the season.

Young star Merrett has been rewarded with added responsibility after an excellent 2016 season where he was the runaway winner of the Bombers’ best-and-fairest award.

Defender Hooker, who also spent last year on the sidelines due to the doping ban, has played 133 games.

And St Kilda have confirmed that Jarryn Geary will replace veteran Nick Riewoldt as skipper, who stepped down after 11 years in the role.

Geary, recruited through the Saints’ rookie list in 2006, has played 141 games since his 2008 debut.

The 28-year-old joins a select group of former rookie-listed players who have risen to the captaincy, including Sydney’s Kieren Jack, Collingwood’s Nick Maxwell and Matthew Boyd from the Western Bulldogs.

-with AAP



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