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HomeAFLDyson Heppell steps down as Essendon Bombers captain, Zach Merrett set to...

Dyson Heppell steps down as Essendon Bombers captain, Zach Merrett set to replace him

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Essendon is on the lookout for a new captain after veteran Dyson Heppell stepped down from the role after leading the club through “a difficult time in its long and proud history”, according to coach Brad Scott.

The Bombers on Friday confirmed Heppell had informed teammates he would relinquish the captaincy for 2023 after six seasons in charge.

Minutes later, Hawthorn confirmed James Sicily had been appointed as the club’s captain ahead of the 2023 season.

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The club indicated it would announce its new captain and leadership group over the next week, with Zach Merrett the heavy favourite to replace Heppell.

“As a little tacker, playing AFL footy was a dream, let alone playing for the club I supported and then further to that, becoming the captain of that club,” Heppell said.

“Over the past six years, I had enormous pride and respect for my role as captain. Leadership can be a tough caper at times, but it has given me so much joy and has played a big part in my growth as a person, player and teammate.

Dyson Heppell of the Bombers. Picture: Robert CianfloneSource: Getty Images

“I owe an enormous amount of gratitude and thanks to the various players and playing groups, coaches, staff and board members for backing me in over the years as well as our loyal fans and members.”

Scott commended Heppell’s decision to step aside, declaring: “Dyson has led the club through a difficult time in its long and proud history and has done so with great commitment.”

Bombers president David Barham labelled Heppell “the ultimate team man”.

“Not for the first time, Dyson has done what he thinks is in the best interest of the club and the team,” Barham said.

“On behalf of all supporters, thank you for your contribution as captain of our club.

“We all look forward to the next part of your playing career and remain forever grateful for your outstanding contribution to this club.”

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Meanwhile, the Hawks said Sicily had been appointed the club’s 38th captain following a “robust internal process”.

Sicily will lead the Hawks, with Luke Breust and Dylan Moore named vice-captains.

“I feel very privileged to be given the opportunity to lead this team,” Sicily said.

“It’s an enormous responsibility but I’m ready for the challenge and can’t wait to lead this group of players.

“To be backed by the players and the club, it’s a really special feeling.

“This club has invested so much effort, love and time into me as a person first and foremost to the point where I feel very comfortable with the opportunity to lead this club, and I feel so supported in the role by teammates, coaches, family and friends.

“The entire playing group is intent on taking our game to another level in 2023, and this has been reflected in the energy and intensity on the training track so far this pre-season so I can’t wait to get started in a month’s time.”

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