Gold Coast Suns choose their Ablett successors
AFL: Gold Coast has announced its replacements for Gary Ablett as skipper and it's no surprise Tom Lynch and Steven May will both both take over the reins.
The two 24-year-olds shared the responsibilities for the final seven games of the 2016 season following Ablett's shoulder injury, demonstrating their collective leadership qualities to Suns coach Rodney Eade and the club.
Lynch was always the heir apparent, and not just because he was growing into the team's best player. The key forward has led the way for the younger players since joining the club as a high draft pick in 2010.
May, meanwhile, has overcome both on and off-field misdemeanours to become captaincy material. He was involved in an infamous LA skirmish with then teammate Campbell Brown in 2013, and was also suspended for five weeks last season when hitting Brisbane ruckman Stef Martin high during a QClash.
But the tough fullback has impressed with his ability to inspire teammates - and members after addressing them at a meeting midway through 2016.
"We have spent a lot of time over the last couple of years identifying and developing our next generation of leaders," Eade said.
"Steven and Tom have stood out throughout that process and their appointment as captains is recognition of their commitment to leading the future direction of the Gold Coast Suns.
"Both guys have demonstrated they have the capabilities to lead and drive the team. And when Gary injured his shoulder last season we believed they were ready to take the next step and together they took the group to another level.
"That period of time was not only a defining period for them individually, but also the team and it became obvious then, that a co-captaincy model was right for us.
"It's certainly an exciting period for the club, and we will have a fresh new look heading into 2017 - from new captains to nine new players and a $22 million training and administration base early in the New Year."
A member of the player leadership group since 2014, Lynch has claimed back to back club champion awards and was named in the 2016 All Australian team.
He has played 102 games for the club since making his debut in Round 7, 2011 against the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba. From Sorrento on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula, Lynch was recruited to the club with selection 11 in the 2010 National Draft.
The Suns signed May as a Northern Territory Zone Access selection in 2010. The Darwin product moved to Melbourne as a 16-year-old after earning an Indigenous Scholarship with Melbourne Grammar.
He has played 88 games for the club since making his debut in Round 6, 2011 against Essendon at Etihad Stadium. May joined the player leadership group in 2015.