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AFL 2023 season, Collingwood Magpies search for next captain to replace Scott Pendlebury, Darcy Moore, Brayden Maynard, Jack Crisp, Nick Daicos

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Just over a week removed from Scott Pendlebury’s bombshell announcement he would be stepping down from his role as Collingwood captain ahead of 2023, there is still no clear indication who the Pies may choose to replace the longest serving captain in the club’s rich 130-year history.

The silky-skilled and unflappable Pendlebury was as prolific a captain as he has been an onballer across his career in black and white, boasting a club-record 206 games as skipper – along with two AFLPA Best Captain awards – on his incredible CV, since taking over from former premiership captain Nick Maxwell back in 2014.

During that period the former No. 5 draft pick recruited out of East Gippsland also collected three Copeland Trophy awards, two All-Australian nominations, one Lou Richards Medal, and an Anzac Day medal to top it all off.

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To say that his successor will have big shoes to fill is an understatement to say the least. Fortunately for whoever is bestowed the honour of becoming the Magpies 48th captain, they will still have the 34-year-old to lean on for guidance until at least the end of 2023.

“At 34 years of age and in the twilight of my career, I felt that this is the optimal time to hand over the position and support the next captain of our club,” Pendlebury said when announcing his decision Monday last week.

“I have experienced all the great football highs and lows throughout my nine-year tenure as captain and I look forward to seeing the next person take the opportunity and make it their own.

“This year, I have shared in what feels like a new era of Collingwood – with new coaches, staff and a young playing group – and we have all witnessed what we have been able to create. It seems timely that we welcome a new captain for season 2023.”

Collingwood said it’d “soon put in place the process” to appoint its next skipper.

No matter how hard the task may appear to be, it is one that the club should be excited to undertake, with a string of strong candidates seemingly already waiting in the wings.

Fox Footy looks at the state of play in the Magpies search for their next leader and casts an eye over the contenders to see who may be called upon to step up to the plate in 2023 and beyond.

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THE CLUBHOUSE LEADERS

According to former Collingwood premiership captain Nick Maxwell – who Pendlebury replaced in 2014 – the obvious frontrunners to replace Scott Pendlebury as captain are his three deputies in 2022 vice-captains Jeremy Howe, Taylor Adams, and in particular Darcy Moore.

“There’s a few of them (players) that could easily do the job and I think the timing of this is really good because you’ve got a whole pre-season to have a real look at it,” Maxwell said on SEN Mornings.

“There’s a few guys there in Jeremy Howe and Taylor Adams who are the more experienced guys, Darcy Moore over the last 18 months has really stepped up in his desire to take on leadership roles.

“So I think they are probably the three for mine that are on the front of my mind when I look at it.

“They’d be the guys for me.”

Collingwood coach Craig McRae confirmed as much when talking about potential successors on SEN’s ‘The Run Home’ back in August.

“I said this when we appointed ‘Pendles’ again and had the leadership group underneath him,” McRae said.

“All those other guys, the vice captains, Howie (Jeremy Howe), Taylor Adams and Darcy all got high votes from the players and they seem to be the next in line.

“Darcy can easily lead our footy club, as can ‘Howie’, so could Taylor, these guys, in particular, are the reasons why we’re having (good) on-field performances, because they’re driving the standards on and off the field.

“(Darcy’s) an exceptional leader by action and he’s got the presence to lead off the field as well, so he would be a great captain for us.”

McRae went on to praise Moore’s strong character while also providing insight into their close-knit relationship, having known Darcy since he was just 16.

“That relationship 10 years on is still strong,” McRae said.

“He’s the sort of guy that when I’m older and greyer I’ll still make contact with.

“He’s got a really high moral compass, he’s super intelligent… which is intriguing, he thinks of things that others don’t think of.

“But the human nature of what he does and the care that he sees in his teammates and extended family is really strong and we could benefit from that.”

After joining the Magpies’ leadership group in 2021 and being elevated to vice-captain ahead of the 2022 season, it appears that Moore’s rapid rise through the ranks could be set to continue, with the 26-year-old Fox Footy’s odds-on favourite to succeed Scott Pendlebury in 2023.

If made Collingwood captain, the All-Australian defender would also follow in the footsteps of his father, Peter, who led the club for two seasons in the ’80s.

Darcy Moore could be in line for the Collingwood captaincy next season (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images).Source: Getty Images

IN THE MIX

According to former Port Adelaide legend Kane Cornes, the perfect candidate to become Collingwood’s 49th club captain is hard-nosed defender Brayden Maynard.

“Now it’s over to the next crop,” the 300-gamer said on SEN’s Sportsday.

“I’m not sure it’s Taylor Adams, I’m certainly not sure it’s Darcy Moore and I don’t think it’s Jeremy Howe.

“I’d be handing it to Brayden Maynard, pretty quickly as well. I think he’s got captain written all over him.”

Pendlebury described Maynard as the club’s “spiritual leader” late in the 2022 season.

Former Collingwood premiership captain Nick Maxwell tends to agree.

“He (Maynard) is a real leader in the way he goes about it with his toughness and he makes them around him stand taller,” Maxwell said on SEN Mornings.

“Again there are so many different types, there are those who are like that who are more about that performance and take my teammates with me.

“But then there is a lot of other layers the club have to consider like being able to go to a corporate function and speak to hundreds of people and being able to be in the media regularly, so there is a lot of layers to it.”

Known for his ferocious attack on the footy and being an extremely fierce competitor, Maynard enjoyed a stellar 2022 campaign to earn his maiden All-Australian jacket, with his ability to guide Collingwood’s younger players in particular earning him plenty of adulation.

While not currently in the leadership group, Fox Footy wouldn’t be shocked if Maynard was fast tracked into the captaincy with his leadership style in a similar mould to that of three-time Hawthorn premiership captain Luke Hodge.

Even if Maynard misses out on being named skipper in 2023, the 26-year-old is likely in line for a promotion to the leadership group and don’t be surprised if, just like Hodge at the end of 2010, he is eventually handed the captaincy.

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DARK HORSE CONTENDER

According to former Collingwood premiership player Mick McGuane, one player who has flown under the radar in the conversation of potential successors to Pendlebury’s captaincy – much like the inconspicuous nature in which he arrived at the club – and looms as a left-field contender is the ever-reliable Jack Crisp.

“Jack Crisp is the left-field option. He might be quieter in voice, but his actions are loud. He’s won back-to-back Copeland Trophies, that in itself tells you how much he performs,” McGuane said on RSN.

Crisp has been a mainstay for the Magpies since arriving from the Brisbane Lions as the supposed ‘set of steak knives’ thrown in as part of the blockbuster Dayne Beams trade at the end of 2014, having played 182 consecutive games in the black and white across nine seasons without injury or suspension.

While the former Lion – often referred to as Collingwood’s ‘Mr Fix It’ – has always been lauded for his ability to play wherever the team has needed him, the 11-year veteran has taken his game to a new level across the last two seasons after making a more permanent move into the midfield – where he was been a leading force in the Magpies’ engine room.

The 29-year-old last week told the Herald Sun he’d be up for the challenge and hopes to be considered in the mix alongside teammates Taylor Adams, Darcy Moore, Jeremy Howe and Brayden Maynard.

“I’d be more than happy to grab the role with two hands if the opportunity arose,’’ Crisp said.

“There’s a process at the club and we’re in a great position with others who can step up.

“It shows the club is well led by a core (group) of players.”

Crisp said he’s feeling well ahead of 2023 and is ready to build on one of his most consistent seasons of footy.

“Personally to be in a position like this makes you feel chuffed and I’m feeling really fit,’’ he said.

“No injuries and I was saying to (wife Mikayla) that this has been one of my most enjoyable breaks so we’re hitting the ground running.”

A fantastic performer during media engagements, Fox Footy thinks the 200-gamer certainly wouldn’t look out of place as captain of the Victorian powerhouse club in 2023 and should be considered firmly in the mix – especially if Collingwood were to consider co-captains next season – with Crisp and any of Moore, Adams, Maynard and Howe all formidable options.

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GENERATION NEXT

A name which is being thrown around in discussions as a potential future Collingwood captain is reigning AFL rising star winner Nick Daicos.

The highly-touted father-son prodigy is no stranger to performing under pressure and delivering on lofty expectations that belie his 19 years, having exploded onto the AFL scene in 2022 after starring for the Magpies in perhaps one of the most highly-anticipated debut seasons in league history.

Unsurprisingly, Daicos – who has leadership attributes, having captained the AFL Academy and Oakleigh Chargers as a junior – is already being earmarked as a future leader of the club for which his dad, 250-game Collingwood legend Peter, starred throughout all of the ’80s and the early ’90s.

What may come as a surprise though is that some believe that Daicos is already equipped to step into Pendlebury’s shoes as Magpies captain, with SEN’s Andy Maher suggesting the talented youngster has all the attributes that have made his skipper an AFL great.

“I tell you who replaces (Pendlebury): Nick Daicos replaces him,” Maher said on SEN’s ‘The Run Home’ back in September.

“The role that Pendebury plays in and around the midfield, just sitting off contest, calmness, slows it all done, picks the right option and thinks his way through the madness when no one else can (Daicos can do all of that).

“They’ve already got the next one.

“…Collingwood supporters, enjoy Scott Pendlebury for the next 35 games or whatever, he’s got at least another 35 in him or whatever it is, but don’t worry about when he goes because this kid is waiting, he’s just waiting to be Scott Pendlebury when Scott Pendlebury gives it away…”

Collingwood legend Mick McGuane, who played in a premiership with Nick’s dad Peter, stated he has no doubt Daicos’ “competitiveness” will see him one day lead the Magpies, but believes now is not the time.

“I think in time Nick Daicos will be the one,” McGuane said on RSN.

“I just think he uses competitiveness (to lead), he’s the type of kid that if you hit him once he’ll hit you back seven times. And that for me is a sign of a guy who is really competitive.

“He’s got this real competitive nature and competitive drive to be the best he can be, which rubs off onto his teammates on a consistent basis.

“I think Nick Daicos will be a captain for sure in the future. He’s not ready now, nor should he be.”

Taken at pick number four in the 2021 AFL draft, the son-of-a-gun was arguably unlucky to miss out on becoming the first player in 30 years to become an All-Australian in their first year.

While being named skipper in 2023 – which would see him break Jack Trengrove’s record (20 years and 181 days old) as the youngest club captain in VFL/AFL history – may be a bit of a stretch, it would appear inevitable that Nick Daicos will one day become the captain of the Collingwood Football Club.

While it may not yet be clear exactly who will become Collingwood’s 48th captain, what is clear to former Magpies premiership captain Maxwell is that whoever gets the nod will have terrific support in the form of the remaining candidates.

“It’s also not just about the person that has a C next to their name, you need the right people around them and I think who is ever honoured with getting the captaincy of Collingwood are going to have some really strong people around them that can help support them,” the 39-year-old said on SEN Mornings.

“Because no one is the perfect captain, no one has every box ticked so I think those guys will be able to support whoever that person ends up being.

“And also you don’t know until they are actually in the seat, obviously there was a lot of doubt when I took over and a lot of people were like, ‘well what are they (Collingwood) doing?’, and me included.

“But I had the ability to grow into the role and I was lucky that people saw enough in me and trusted me enough to able to take on that role and take on that grow.”

Another former Collingwood premiership captain, Tony Shaw, told the Herald Sun the Magpies couldn’t go wrong appointing Pendlebury’s successor.

“They all can do it,” he said.

“It’s whether they think Maynard and Moore, who are a bit younger, are ready for it.

“Do you want an elderly captain who can do it for one or two (seasons)? Or do you want someone who’s going to be in there for four or five or maybe longer.

“Knowing Taylor (Adams) and Howe, they could do it brilliantly. It’s a great honour and a big decision, but I don’t think they’ll lose out on either one of those.”

Collingwood will begin their search for their 48th club captain over the course of the off-season, as they prepare to go one step further in the finals in season 2023, starting with their incoming captain’s inaugural game against Geelong in Round 1 at the MCG on Friday, March 17.

Story Credit: foxsports.com.au

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