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What Tim Watson found interesting about Essendon's new leadership group


Former Essendon captain Tim Watson has outlined what he believes was the most interesting aspect of the club’s revamped leadership group in 2021.

The Bombers announced their streamlined leadership group for the upcoming season last week, with Zach Merrett back as a joint vice-captain with Michael Hurley and Andrew McGrath.

Dyson Heppell will skipper the club for a fifth consecutive year.

Both Devon Smith and Dylan Shiel won’t be part of the leadership group this year, something which Watson singled out and said spoke to the current disconnect at the club.

“It’s looking a bit like (a hokey-pokey) leadership group,” he said on SEN Breakfast.

“It’s a bit curious how that judgement can be made about someone (Like Zach Merrett) that they’re in the leadership group, they’re out of the leadership group and then they’re back in during a period of three years.

“I think more interesting for me that Dylan Shiel and Devon Smith have been in for just the one year (and now no longer there), that says something doesn’t it.

“They were considered by the group at that time that they were leaders, they were in there for 12 months – and it was a difficult 12 months for everyone given we went through COVID and the hub – (and then then were out again).

“You have input form the players and the staff, then they invite different input. It paints the picture from the outside that there’s some misunderstanding and disconnection around that type of players that needs to be corrected if that is going to push forward and be a successful team.”

Garry Lyon said he saw Zach Merrett inclusion in Essendon’s leadership group this year as an admission they made a mistake leaving him out in 2020.

“I admire them for putting him back in because it says to me that they know they (made a mistake),” he said.

Merrett remains out of contract heading into the new season, with the 25-year-old tipped to be one of the most sought-after restricted free agents as his deal at the club expires.

Essendon will be hoping for a much-improved 2021 season under new coach Ben Rutten on the back of last year, where they finished in 13th spot with just six wins.

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