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Making the switch: leadership of AFL champion Selwood will be enormous for Melbourne Storm

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19th November, 2022

Tough, brave, courageous, humble, true leadership. These are just some of the words that epitomise Joel Selwood’s incredible career.

The four-time Geelong premiership player and now premiership captain will be joining the Melbourne Storm in a leadership role. It’s a massive coup for the rugby league side. The NRL powerhouse based in AFL heartland managed to secure Selwood’s signature despite others vying for his services.

Three-time All-Australian captain, the Bendigo-born leader will bring many transferable leadership traits to the role. He’ll be tasked with mentoring Melbourne Storm’s current and emerging leaders, and guiding the team’s next captain.
Selwood, a six-time All-Australian is regarded as one of the AFL’s greatest leaders who consistently led Geelong to finals.

And on Grand Final Day, he went one step further. A great example of selfless leadership, he showed there are more important things in life than his football skills.

For years, Selwood has shown how great his football nous is. One of the toughest players to play the game, the Geelong leader is known for leaving the ground bandaged up. On countless occasions, he has demonstrated his courage; his bravery and ability to get the football in difficult circumstances, evade and shake off a tackle and kick it clear to a teammate is exemplary.

Many opposition fans have despised him for so long. But on his last day on an AFL oval, the four-time premiership player and now premiership captain showed how great he is. Long renowned for his on-field heroics, he won over many admirers through his performance off the field.

On a day when he finally achieved his goal of being a premiership captain and could have easily been forgiven for worrying all about himself, the champion showed empathy, care and love for those around him. It was an incredible display of selflessness.

Firstly, he carried young Levi Ablett, (the son of Gary Ablett Junior) who suffers from a degenerative heart condition, onto the MCG as he led his side out for the Grand Final. He gave the young boy a kiss as well.

Chris Scott and Joel Selwood of the Cats hold the premiership cup aloft.

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Unselfishly, he agreed to start the match on the bench, despite being the captain. Another example of selfless leadership, as he obeyed the coach that it would be for the betterment of the team.

But when he came on the field, he quickly demonstrated his influence on the contest. He had 12 possessions by quarter time to be Geelong’s leading disposal winner and make a great start for the club. Impacting the scoreboard, he also kicked a ripper banana goal late in the game.

But just like his care and love for Levi Ablett before the game, it was some of his post-match actions that won over the most enviable of opposition fans.

As all premiership players are called up on stage to be presented with their premiership medallion, they are forgiven for basking in the glory. After all, they put all of their blood, sweat and tears into achieving that ultimate premiership success.

After getting so close on so many occasions, and finally becoming a premiership captain, Selwood would have had every right to do the same. No one would have begrudged him for making the moment all about himself and his teammates.

But he didn’t.


Instead, the 34-year-old showed genuine concern, care, and empathy for others. Something most people might struggle to do in such a momentous situation.

After generously giving the 2022 Auskicker of the year, young Archie Stockdale, his boots, he took a photo with him.
Imagine how incredibly special Archie would have felt. It’s sure to be an unforgettable memory for the eight-year-old.
The Cats skipper then collected all the Auskickers and took a photo with them. That will surely be a moment they will cherish forever.

And if that wasn’t enough, he went into the stands and got the Geelong water boy Sammy Moorcroft so they could celebrate together. Sammy who has Down Syndrome works in the Cats retail store and football department. But the Cats skipper brought him out of the crowd to celebrate with the team. Selwood gave him a huge hug while forward Jeremy Cameron, gave him his premiership medal to wear. A truly heart-warming moment. Sammy later mentioned it was the best day of his life.

While it may be a different sport, the 34-year-old is looking forward to the new challenge.

“I’m really excited to be joining Storm. I’ve been watching them and been in envy of what the club has been able to achieve for a long time,” said Selwood.

“When the opportunity came up, I saw it as a great chance to get involved in something a bit different in an environment that is so well run.”


After playing in four Grand Finals in his first five years at Geelong from 2007 -2011, winning three of them, he was appointed captain when Cameron Ling retired. Captaining the Cats from 2012 to 2022, Selwood led the club through a period of sustained success where they made the finals in all but one season. Geelong played in seven preliminary finals and two Grand Finals during that time.

He is Geelong’s games record holder and has won 73% of the matches he has played in. An incredible achievement not reached by any other player.

Frank Ponnissi, Melbourne Storm’s general manager of football, is confident Selwood can add value to the rugby league side.

“We knew our two clubs had a lot of similarities, not just in sustained success but the values we each hold, and Joel has been a constant driver of those values for a long time,” said Ponissi.

“His leadership qualities and values off the field are just as impressive.”

While the code switch has come as a surprise to many, no one doubts he will have success. The Storm will be lucky to have someone of Selwood’s leadership and quality join their ranks. And the players at the Storm would be looking forward to working with an inspirational leader.

Like Geelong, Melbourne Storm have also been a consistently performing side since they joined the NRL in 1998.
And just as he led the Cats to sustained success, Selwood can help the Storm continue along the same path.