An unprecedented 10 new captains will lead their sides out for the first time this weekend, the biggest amount of change at the top in nearly three decades.
Nine clubs replaced their skipper, with Melbourne adding Jack Viney alongside Nathan Jones as co-captains for the 2017 season.
Each of the players stepping down from head honcho duties will continue playing and support their successors as they tackle the first year in the job.
Does anything actually change when you’re up the front in meetings or leading the group onto the ground before the game?
Aflplayers.com.au spoke to five new captains to understand if anything changes in their new role.
JOSH KENNEDY — SYDNEY
“The last two weeks have been a little bit different with corporate events and season launches.
Things might change when we get into games and you start to build a bit of a win/loss record and you think about it a lot more, but hopefully not too much will change.
I certainly feel an added responsibility as captain but having said that there are eight in our leadership group and they’re all very senior players, so we’ll share the load and I take great confidence in that.
That was something that would’ve been discussed with John, Jarrad and Kieren as well as the board and match committee, so I’m not sure if them stepping down as captains [before retiring] and continuing to play was the plan.
Having them there as part of the leadership group, they’re certainly not stepping back and they’ve made it clear it’s not a matter of them just focusing on their own careers and getting themselves right, they’re very much involved.”
DAYNE BEAMS — BRISBANE
“There’s a responsibility that comes with being the captain of the club and I’m looking forward to that challenge. The continuous feedback I’ve received from my peers is don’t change because what you’ve been doing has got you into this position.
I tend not to watch a lot of footy and I’m not a footy-nut. I pride myself on knowing the situation within the group and identifying guys who might be struggling and I can deal with and understand different players individually.
It is sometimes a challenge coming to an interstate club with new faces and new people and they can struggle a little bit with that. I guess I’d like to guide them through that and show leadership in that way.”
JACK ZIEBELL — NORTH MELBOURNE
“There’s been a bit of change that’s happened at our football club and it’s an exciting period for us.
There are a few more commitments that go with being the captain but I’m quite lucky to have Andrew Swallow, who had been the captain for five years, standing right next to me every day so I’ve been using him.
We have some great resources at our footy club and it makes my job a whole lot easier.
The extra commitment has its perks but I’ll try and get that stuff out of the way as soon as possible before the games start and football takes priority.
With a younger group, they’re really looking at the senior players to set the standard, but although I’m nine years in I still feel 20 years old, and when I look around the change rooms, I’m now one of the oldest guys there.
One of the hardest things to deal with is understanding that I’m the senior player now and I went through that a year or so ago and now relish being the guy who sets the standards and holding people to account.
I’ve always found it hard to leave footy at the footy club and be at home. I doubt that will change while being the captain, but there’s also a part of me that enjoys that responsibility.
We like to be in control and help our teammates get better and our job is to help everyone improve.”
JARRYD ROUGHEAD — HAWTHORN
“I don’t feel any different and I think that’s a good thing. If you’re changing purely because you have a ‘C’ next to your name, you don’t have to.
Our leadership group has been pretty good in the last few years so it’s not as anything changes just because there’s a different bloke up the front delivering the message — it’s just a different voice.”
JARRYN GEARY — ST KILDA
“I’ve had some greater responsibilities and events I’ve had to attend.
I think about things a little differently from day-to-day in terms of the way training is going, how certain players are going but other than that it’s pretty similar to my daily life.
Responsibilities have increased and there’s probably a few more on the cards that will pop up that’s expected of you that you don’t consider when you’re given the role.
I’ve been a player who doesn’t like touching the banner, so I’d be in the middle of the pack and duck under it, so it’ll be interesting come Round 1 — I haven’t had to do it yet.”