Essendon have received a significant off-season boost with skipper Dyson Heppell extending his contract with the Bombers.
Boom recruit Brendon Goddard has been elevated straight into Essendon’s leadership group for the 2013 AFL season.
Goddard would have been a leading contender to succeed Nick Riewoldt as St Kilda captain had he not decided to swap clubs.
Instead, he will join young gun Dyson Heppell and Jason Winderlich in an expanded eight-man Essendon leadership group headed by skipper and reigning Brownlow medallist Jobe Watson.
“It is incredibly pleasing to see Brendon, Jason and Dyson being elevated into the leadership group for next season,” said Essendon coach James Hird.
“We have no doubt that our young playing list will significantly benefit from both Brendon and Jason’s leadership skills and experience in the game.
“It is particularly encouraging to see Dyson being elevated into the leadership group at such a young age and it is a real credit to the way he has handled himself in his time at the club.
“We believe that we have a reasonable spread of both youth and experience and we are delighted that this group, led by Jobe, will be guiding our players both on and off the field.”
Goddard, 27, is a two-time All-Australian, who played 205 games for the Saints after being selected at pick No.1 in the 2002 national draft.
He joined the Bombers as a free agent on a lucrative four-year deal.
Heppell, 20, won the Rising Star award in his debut year in 2011 and was second behind Watson in the Bombers’ best and fairest award this year.
The other members of Essendon’s leadership group are Brent Stanton, Heath Hocking, Michael Hurley and David Zaharakis.