Essendon announce Brendon Goddard as captain for 2016

Brendon Goddard. Photo: Wayne TaylorBrendon Goddard said he wished it wasn’t so, but has vowed to honour his suspended teammates and ensure that Essendon “get the most out of the year.”

Goddard, 30, was on Friday morning unveiled as the Bombers’ stand-in captain for 2016, the man chosen from a small pool of candidates to lead the club following the suspension of 12 current Dons by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last week.

The former St Kilda utility was one of just two players left standing from Essendon’s initial seven-man leadership group for this season; The other, small defender Mark Baguley, has been appointed vice-captain. An extended leadership group is set to be picked at a later point, with coach John Worsfold nominating recent recruits Craig Bird and Matthew Leuenberger as options.

The five other members of the group picked last month – captain Jobe Watson, vice-captain Dyson Heppell, Michael Hurley, Cale Hooker and David Myers – were all among the 34 current and former Bombers banned by CAS after being found guilty of taken banned peptide thymosin beta-4 as part of Essendon’s 2012 supplements regime.

Goddard had been widely tipped to replace Watson, but while the 2013 best-and-fairest winner noted the privilege that had been bestowed upon him, he lamented the reasons he had been made skipper, a decision ratified by both the club’s board and playing group. “Although I’m honoured to be the captain of the club, I wish it were in different circumstances,” Goddard said prior to training at Tullamarine.

“Essentially it’s the last place I really wanted to be.”

But the versatile former No.1 draft pick said that despite the Dons’ thin stocks, Worsfold’s makeshift team owed it to the dozen players suspended for the year to extract the best possible result from what loomed as a difficult campaign.

“While we’re still coming to terms with the events of this week, we must get on and prepare for the season ahead. It was really important for all of us to get back to training. The other guys would want us to move on and get the most out of the year,” he said.

“There’s no doubt we’re going to face some tough challenges as a club this season, but we have confidence we have a list that is ready to take these challenges head on, and won’t be taking a backward step.

“This group has a real opportunity to create its own history. We’re here because we love footy. We’re here to get better and we’re here to be competitive.”

Baguley, who last year extended his contract at the Bombers until the end of 2017 following a protracted period of negotiations, shared Goddard’s sentiments. “It’s all pretty fresh in our mind, but we’re just trying to do our friends proud and our club proud,” Baguley said.

Goddard joined the Dons in October 2012, signing a four-year deal after departing St Kilda under what were then newly-implemented free agency rules. Within months of his arrival at Windy Hill, Goddard was thrust into the heat of the supplements saga, and has frequently been called upon as a spokesman for the players given his status as one of few experienced Bombers not directly involved in the joint AFL and Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority investigation.

While rarely reaching the heights of his outstanding 2010 season at the Saints, Goddard has been a solid performer for most of his time at the Bombers. Nevertheless he has come under some criticism for his on-field demeanour, and was described as “self-centred” by former teammate Paul Chapman in the 2009 Norm Smith medallist’s recently released book. Goddard was also the subject of trade speculation late in 2015.

Worsfold meanwhile added that the club would soon announce further top-up players, having already unveiled former Fremantle tagger Ryan Crowley and ex-Geelong champion James Kelly as two of their permitted 10 replacements for 2016. It’s understood the Dons have also committed to 2013 Hawthorn premiership player Jonathan Simpkin and delisted Richmond defender Matt Dea.

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