Hurn to lead again
Respected leader Shannon Hurn has been emphatically endorsed by the club to captain the team for a third successive season after the West Coast Eagles board last night ratified a football department recommendation.
First the players were asked to vote on the composition of the leadership group, the Football Department executive supported their views and finally the club’s board offered their stamp of approval.
Hurn, a straight-shooter who has excelled in the role of captain, will lead the playing group with a couple of subtle changes to the support network around him.
Most notably, 2016 John Worsfold medallist Luke Shuey has been elevated as a joint vice-captain alongside dual Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy, while Brownlow medallists Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell complete the leadership group with all-Australian defender Jeremy McGovern and 2015 Club Champion Andrew Gaff.
Mitchell, who joins the club after 307 games, five best and fairest awards and four premierships with Hawthorn, was a natural fit for a leadership role – particularly with his playing career planned to morph into a coaching role at the club.
The composition of the decorated leadership group is a neat mix of long-serving leadership stalwarts and players like Shuey, Gaff and McGovern, who have emerged in the last couple of years.
“Initially the players voted and having the support of their peers is an important element for the leadership group,” senior coach Adam Simpson said today.
“The club is in a fortunate position to have high quality people to lead the squad and we believe there is a blend of skills within our leaders.
“Shannon Hurn has been a terrific leader since his appointment as captain three years ago and he has great respect from his teammates. Over the last couple of years Luke Shuey, Andrew Gaff and Jeremy McGovern have certainly grown within the group and it has been reflected in the player vote.
“Clearly Josh Kennedy and Matt Priddis have been outstanding leaders for a long time and to have someone of Sam Mitchell’s calibre at our disposal will be invaluable.”
Hurn, 29, said he was delighted to continue as the club’s skipper.
“It is a great honour to continue as captain of the football club,” Hurn said.
“We believe we are in a good position as a club and we need everyone working together to achieve the best possible outcomes.
“The senior leadership group has an important role to play, but everyone at the club has to play their part if we are to achieve our goals.”
The one change to the leadership group from last year is that experienced defender Eric Mackenzie has been removed from the group as he strives to continue his comeback from a serious knee injury.