Hawthorn has announced Ben McEvoy will captain the club in 2021
Hawthorn has announced Ben McEvoy will captain the club in 2021

Bolter candidate wins race to skipper Hawks

Ben McEvoy is Hawthorn's new captain.

The Hawks confirmed on Friday the dual premiership ruckman was to become the 37th captain of the club, succeeding Ben Stratton.

After what the club described as a "robust internal process" working with Leading Teams, the Hawks have chosen a one captain and one vice-captain model.

McEvoy will be supported by vice-captain Jaeger O'Meara, who continues in the position for the second consecutive season.

Young midfielder James Worpel is the only new addition to the leadership group.

Experienced trio Liam Shiels, Jack Gunston and Tom Mitchell round out the six-man leadership group.

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Hawthorn chief executive Justin Reeves said McEvoy, 31, held "strong values" and was admired by everyone at the club.

"We've got a fantastic mix of youth and experience within our ranks and this leadership group is reflective of that," Reeves said.

"Ben is one of those people who is universally admired both inside and outside Hawthorn's walls. He's a salt of the earth, family man with strong values and we know he'll set a fantastic example leading from the front.

"Ben is much loved by all at the club, including our members, and exemplifies what it is to be a Hawthorn person.

"Everyone at the club is proud to have Ben McEvoy as our leader."

Ben McEvoy (left) will skipper the Hawks in 2021. Picture: AAP Images
Ben McEvoy (left) will skipper the Hawks in 2021. Picture: AAP Images

McEvoy said he was thrilled at the prospect of captaining the club where he has played 131 games and was also a part of the 2014 and 2015 premiership teams.

"To be voted by my teammates and receive the support of the club is an honour.

"My wife Nicky, and kids Angus, Moira and Clancy have all been embraced by Hawthorn and I'm excited to take on this challenge with my family by my side.

"This club has given me a lot over the years and I see this as an amazing opportunity to give back and play my role in ensuring we continue to make the Hawthorn family proud.

"I'm lucky to be surrounded by a strong leadership group, each equally committed to putting in the hard work required to get Hawthorn back up the ladder.

"The entire playing group is intent on making amends for our disappointing 2020 campaign and this has been reflected in the energy and intensity on the training track.

"We can't wait to get stuck into games and translate our efforts into on-field success."

The Herald Sun wrote on Thursday that McEvoy had emerged as a bolter in the captaincy race.

O'Meara and Mitchell - who were joint vice-captains last year - and Gunston were long considered the frontrunners to replace Stratton.

However, McEvoy was believed to have polled strongly on Wednesday in player voting.

Stratton's somewhat-surprise ascension as Jarryd Roughead's successor in 2019 came on the back of the same prolific player support.

 

Ben McEvoy is in the mix to be Hawthorn’s next captain. Picture: AAP
Ben McEvoy is in the mix to be Hawthorn’s next captain. Picture: AAP

McEvoy is the first player to captain Hawthorn after crossing from another club since Keith Shea in 1945.

The 31-year-old's been a magnificent contributor since St Kilda traded him to the Hawks for Shane Savage and a late first-round draft pick at the end of 2013.

McEvoy immediately became Alastair Clarkson's No.1 big man and played an integral role in the 2014 and 2015 premierships.

He was in the leadership group for the past two seasons and is one of the most respected members at the club for his high standards and level-headed approach.

McEvoy selflessly accepted a key defensive role late in 2019 that meant Jon Ceglar could spend more time in the ruck, at a time Brisbane was trying to lure him north.

Departed Hawthorn football boss Graham Wright revealed late last year that McEvoy could return to the ruck this coming season, although he's still trained in defence at times over the summer.

 

 

He is contracted until the end of the 2021 season.

The Hawks are a team in transition and finished 15th last year, their lowest ladder placing since 2004, when there were only 16 clubs in the competition.

O'Meara, 26, and Mitchell, 27, still loom large as longer-term captaincy contenders, as comfortably the youngest members of last year's leadership group, including Liam Shiels, 29.

Another future option might be 2019 Peter Crimmins medallist James Worpel, who captained NAB League club Geelong Falcons and Victoria Country at junior level, but who has only just turned 22.

Clarkson and co. need to decide whether this is a bridging year or if the future is now.

 

Originally published as Bolter candidate wins race to skipper Hawks


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