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Leadership group revealed

Nathan van Berlo heads up a six-man leadership group in 2013
Nathan van Berlo heads up a six-man leadership group in 2013
VB is the ultimate role model for our young players and the entire squad.
Coach Brenton Sanderson

Nathan van Berlo will lead the Crows again in 2013, while influential players Sam Jacobs and Jason Porplyzia have been added to a six-man senior leadership group.

Reigning Club Champion Scott Thompson has been reappointed as vice-captain, and young star Patrick Dangerfield as deputy vice-captain. Rory Sloane, Jacobs and Porplyzia round out the group.

A member of the 2012 leadership team, Ben Rutten made the decision to step aside this year to focus on mentoring the Club’s young defenders and also concentrate on his own game.

Van Berlo, 26, has captained Adelaide in 49 AFL games. Involved with the leadership group since 2008, van Berlo officially took over from Club legend Simon Goodwin ahead of the 2011 season. Selected by the Crows with pick No.24 in the 2004 AFL Draft, the Perth-born midfielder is the sixth captain of the Club and the only non-South Australian to hold the position.

Coach Brenton Sanderson said van Berlo remained the standout choice as captain.

“VB is the complete package when it comes to leadership,” Sanderson said.

“He leads by example and he understands our game plan - he’s an extension of the coaching group in that respect. His relationship with the whole squad is fantastic. He lives the values of the Club and of the players. He’s the ultimate role model for our young players and the entire squad.

“He leads the Club and the leadership group extremely well. He really excelled in the position last year.”

Porplyzia and Jacobs have both been elevated to the leadership group for the first time.

Jacobs, 24, enjoyed a breakout season in only his second year at West Lakes. Recruited by Adelaide in the 2010 trade period, the former Carlton rookie led the competition in hit-outs to advantage and was included in the initial All-Australian squad.

Sanderson said the 202cm ruckman emerged as a leader in the team in 2012.

“Jacobs is part of the next band of good, young leaders coming through along with guys like Taylor Walker, Matt Wright, Daniel Talia and Sam Kerridge even though he’s only played one game,” Sanderson said.

“We quickly identify the players with leadership potential. Last year, Sauce was at almost every contest because he plays in the ruck and plays big minutes, and he had a strong influence.

“He loves the Club and he loves South Australia. When we told him he was in the leadership group he couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. It’s a real achievement for him having only come across from the Blues a couple of years ago.”

At 28 years of age and a veteran of 110 games, Porplyzia is a latecomer to an official leadership role. The skilful forward’s inclusion is recognition of his hard work, persistence and ability to overcome adversity.

“What I really like about this group is that each member brings a unique quality. The thing that makes Porps unique in that group is that he’s done it the hard way,” Sanderson said.

“He started on the rookie list, was delisted, redrafted and then had setbacks through injury. He’s really empathetic to different players in the squad and he’s seen footy from all different angles.

“He’s very quiet, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a leader. His best work is done in small groups or one-on-ones, but the information about the work he does behind closed doors filters back to the coaches. He might not know we’re aware of it, but he does a lot of things to help his teammates off his own bat.”

Rutten follows in the footsteps of Michael Doughty in relinquishing an official leadership role. But like Doughty last season, the 29-year-old will continue to have a strong presence.

“Truck (Rutten) has been in the leadership group for a long time. He came to me before Christmas and said he felt there were players coming through, who were ready to lead,” Sanderson said.

“Hopefully, it’s another year or two away, but Truck is coming towards the end of his career. With Michael Doughty retiring, our defensive group is really young this year. Outside of Truck, Brent Reilly and Richard Tambling, who has played 119 games, the most experienced defender is Andy Otten (47 games).

“Truck decided he really wanted to help (defensive coach) Darren Milburn fast-track those young defenders. Truck will spend a lot of time with that group, watching their game tapes and helping them at training.

“He just felt it was the right time to step aside. I thought it was a good decision and it shows the strength of our group.”

Dangerfield, 22, and Sloane, 22, are both entering their second seasons in the leadership group. Sanderson said the prolific midfielders had showed they were more than capable of handling the additional responsibility.

“Danger and Sloaney are both outstanding young leaders and the future of our footy club,” he said.

“We could’ve had two deputy vice-captains- that would’ve been the easy call. They’re both very different in their leadership styles, but we know the qualities and values they have are exemplary.

“Danger is the one with deputy vice-captain next to his name, but I wouldn’t read too much into that. It won’t change the way Sloaney plays or leads.”

2013 Leadership Group at a glance
Nathan van Berlo (captain): Age 26, 163 games, 56 goals, recruited with pick No.24 in the 2004 AFL Draft, Adelaide captain since 2011 (49 games including two as acting captain in 2010), leadership group member since 2008.

Scott Thompson (vice-captain): Age 28, 223 games, 139 goals, Club Champion 2011 and 2012, All Australian 2012, originally recruited by Melbourne with pick No.16 in the 2000 AFL Draft, traded to Adelaide ahead of 2005 season, vice-captain since 2012, leadership group member since 2011.

Patrick Dangerfield (deputy vice-captain): Age 22, 89 games, 94 goals, 2012 All Australian, Runner-up Club Champion 2012, recruited with pick No.10 in the 2007 AFL Draft, leadership group member since 2012.

Rory Sloane: Age 22, 57 games, 37 goals, recruited with pick No.44 in the 2008 AFL Draft, 2012 Coach’s Award, Third in Club Champion 2012, leadership group member since 2012.

Sam Jacobs: Age 24, 60 games, 13 goals, All Australian nominee 2012, Crows Best Team Man 2012, originally recruited by Carlton with pick No.1 in the 2007 AFL Rookie Draft, traded to Adelaide ahead of 2011 season, first-time leadership group member.

Jason Porplyzia: Age 28, 110 games, 167 goals, leading goalkicker (57) 2009, originally recruited with pick No.29 in the 2003 AFL Rookie Draft, re-drafted by Adelaide with pick No.9 in the 2006 AFL Pre-season Draft, first-time leadership group member.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs