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List of AFL captains for 2023 season, selection calls, Joel Selwood replacement, Dayne Zorko, Ben McEvoy replacement, latest news, analysis

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There’s a new crop of leaders to be unveiled in the AFL off the back of the retirements of Joel Selwood and Ben McEvoy.

But there’s also a host of clubs weighing up whether to take a different direction under a new leader this season, including Fremantle, Adelaide and Essendon.

West Coast has already confirmed it will stick with Luke Shuey for a fourth straight season, while Collingwood (Darcy Moore) and North Melbourne (Jy Simpkin and Luke McDonald) moved quickly to announce replacements for Scott Pendlebury and Jack Ziebell respectively after they opted to stand aside.

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Shuey the skipper once more at Eagles | 00:23

Clubs like the Western Bulldogs (Marcus Bontempelli), Carlton (Patrick Cripps), Melbourne (Max Gawn) and the Gold Coast (Jarrod Witts and Touk Miller) are all set to remain with their current leadership set up.

Greater Western Sydney, Richmond and Sydney are also likely to stick fat with their skippers for 2023.

But there’s some big questions for a number of clubs over who will lead them this season.

Geelong face no easy task replacing the retired Selwood, given he led the Cats for 245 games as captain.

Cat Cam Guthrie described the task as “impossible”, but there’s a host of contenders available for the squad. Patrick Dangerfield is considered the hot favourite to take the reins, alongside 2022 vice-captain Tom Stewart.

Other options include Mark Blicavs and Mitch Duncan as Geelong enjoy “an embarrassment of riches” in the leadership stakes.

“It could be one of seven or eight players who I think would be deserving of the captaincy there. Whether they take age into consideration (is an important question),” ex-Cats coach Brenton Sanderson said on SEN.

“For me personally, I‘d probably go Blicavs. Having watched him so closely and the way he plays the game, he’s so loud out on the field with his directions. My money would be on him if I was going to bet on who was going to captain Geelong this year.

“Danger would be a fantastic captain. When I was coaching the Crows I thought he would be the future captain of Adelaide.

“He’s certainly been there long enough now to know everything about the club and the way it operates. A Brownlow Medallist at Geelong, he’d be a fantastic choice as well.”

Who will captain all 18 AFL clubs in 2023?Source: FOX SPORTS

Whether or not the Crows opt to keep Rory Sloane as captain remains to be seen after he races the clock to be fit for Round 1.

Sloane played just four games last season after tearing his ACL, with a host of Crows including Jordan Dawson, Ben Keays and Tom Doedee leading the race to replace him – if the club decides a change is needed.

But Adelaide’s Sam Berry says he’d be happy to see Sloane remain at the helm.

“On-field he’s always giving advice, he is always just trying to make everyone around him better,” Berry said.

“When he has been on the track he has been unreal with his voice and everything, he is just such a great leader.

“I’m looking forward to playing alongside him again.”

Brisbane came under fire late last year after they opted to back in skipper Dayne Zorko amid his sledging scandal.

Fox Footy’s David King said he didn’t believe Zorko could lead the club after his “extremely personal” sledge left Melbourne’s Harrison Petty in tears.

“He can’t be captain doing that stuff. He can’t be captain if he’s a recidivist in this area and getting it wrong,” he said.

Harris Andrews, who was vice captain last season, could be the man to replace him, while Jarrod Berry and Hugh McCluggage’s names were floated by Anthony Hudson.

Zorko said he was once again throwing his “hat in the ring” to lead the Lions, with a decision to be made later this month.

“There’s a process in place at the moment… whether that means being the captain, I think we’re going to (decide) in the middle of February at some point,” he said on SEN.

“Obviously I’m more than happy to lead this club. I think it’s dependant on how my body is going as well, of course where the club sees the future of it going.

“I’ll certainly throw my hat in the ring and see what happens, but ultimately that’s one for the hierarchy to decide.”

Bruce behind move to defence at Dogs | 01:44

Dyson Heppell didn’t even have a contract at Essendon late last year, so it’s no surprise he’s no certainty to lead the club under new coach Brad Scott.

Heppell, who has been skipper since 2017, admitted he’s “not tied to the role” as he conceded he’s prepared to step down as leader.

“If the group and club feel there‘s someone else better off to lead the group going forward, then I’m more than happy to step down and hand the reins over,” he said pre-Christmas.

Mason Redman has already put his hand up to take over, but said he’d back Heppell in should he wish to continue.

“If it came around and they thought I was the right man for the job, 100 per cent I would throw my hand up,” he said on Thursday.

“The way I look at it, Dyson is still our captain. I get the sense he‘d want to lead the club again.”

Midfielders Andrew McGrath and Zach Merrett are other potential options for Scott.

Fremantle are facing a massive call on skipper Nat Fyfe as the Dockers are charging towards finals success.

Fyfe was restricted to just seven games last year and just 29 combined games for the two season prior due to injury.

The two-time Brownlow Medallist is no longer the midfield maestro he once was, and looks set for a move to the forward line.

There’s plenty of options for coach Justin Longmuir with Alex Pearce leading the club admirably in Fyfe’s absence, while young gun Andy Brayshaw is basically a skipper in waiting.

Alex Pearce led the Dockers plenty of times last season. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“The scenario around the leadership and the captain this year is making sure what’s best for Nathan going forward and whether the burden of being the captain is good for his footy,” Longmuir said SEN last month.

“The amount of injuries he had last year, that was a really tough season on him as a player and as a skipper, so we need to make sure we get that right and we probably need a little bit more time to work through that in terms of seeing how he tracks through the pre-season.”

Interestingly, it was Fyfe and Pearce seated either side of Longmuir for AFL photo day in a sign the call could come down to two.

Hawthorn will need to make a call on their new skipper after Ben McEvoy’s retirement at the end of 2022.

With a young squad, boasting only one player over the age of 30, the call on who takes the reins is considered a crucial one for the team moving forward.

James Sicily is widely tipped to be the man for the role, especially considering the departures of Tom Mitchell, Jaeger O’Meara and Jack Gunston.

“He should be (captain). He’s grown, he’s still got that edge where he’s slightly dangerous in heated moments, but he’s a beautiful kick of the footy, a fantastic player,” Hawks great Dermott Brereton said on SEN.

“The bloke who could go off tap… you know they’re invested. James could go the wrong way occasionally in the past with what his antics were, but you know he was emotionally invested beyond what the pay grade suggests.”

But Hawk Changkuoth Jiath says there’s a few contenders with leadership potential, including Dylan Moore, Sam Frost, Luke Breust and Jarman Impey.

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Tom Jonas has hit back at rumours he won’t be the man to lead Port Adelaide in 2023.

In November, there were reports Jonas would be overlooked for the captain’s role, but the man himself moved to correct the rumour.

“Not that I know of (stepping down). But I mean this time of year, speculation is natural,” he said on Triple M footy.

“We’ll wait and see. Obviously it’s a privilege to lead the club and I’ll keep doing it as long as they want me to.”

St Kilda could be another club to move to shake up its leadership structure given there’s a new coach at the helm in Ross Lyon.

Jack Steele led the Saints as captain in 2022 and appears likely to get the nod again.

But Lyon could turn to the likes of Dougal Howard or Callum Wilkie if he opts for a defender to lead.

Tim Membrey could be considered a smoky chance given Lyon is known to favour forwards as leaders – with Nick Riewoldt (St Kilda) and Matthew Pavlich (Fremantle) the players he worked closest with in his previous stints as coach.


Collingwood – Darcy Moore

North Melbourne – Jy Simpkin & Luke McDonald


Adelaide – Rory Sloane

Brisbane – Dayne Zorko

Carlton – Patrick Cripps

Collingwood – Scott Pendlebury

Essendon – Dyson Heppell

Fremantle – Nat Fyfe

Geelong – Joel Selwood

Gold Coast – Jarrod Witts and Touk Miller

Greater Western Sydney – Stephen Coniglio, Josh Kelly & Toby Greene

Hawthorn – Ben McEvoy

Melbourne – Max Gawn

North Melbourne – Jack Ziebell

Port Adelaide – Tom Jonas

Richmond – Dylan Grimes and Toby Nankervis

St Kilda – Jack Steele

Sydney – Luke Parker, Dane Rampe & Callum Mills

West Coast – Luke Shuey

Western Bulldogs – Marcus Bontempelli

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