Reluctant Goddard to lead Essendon

A reluctant Brendan Goddard has agreed to lead Essendon in 2016 but wishes his promotion had come in different circumstances.

Goddard was frank at Friday’s announcement about filling Jobe Watson’s role after Watson and a group of other senior Bombers were suspended due to the club’s supplements saga.

“I won’t lie to you … standing in front of you today is probably the last place I wanted to be,” he told reporters.

“Although we’re very honoured and grateful to captain this footy club and this group, we obviously wish it was under different circumstances.”

Goddard was widely expected to take the role after the WADA suspensions robbed the Bombers of their captain Watson, vice-captain Heath Hocking, Dylan Heppell and Brent Stanton.

After the suspensions were confirmed last week, Goddard and Adam Cooney were the only players remaining on Essendon’s list to have played more than 150 games.

“We’ve obviously lost a lot of experience but it’s now an opportunity for other guys – particularly the younger guys – to really stand up and take responsibility,” said Goddard.

Mark Baguley, who has played just 72 games, will be Goddard’s deputy as the replacement for Hocking.

“It’s a great opportunity for myself and Brendan to lead the club … and I’m just excited to have a good season,” said Baguley.

Coach John Worsfold said a leadership group was still a few weeks from being decided but Craig Bird, Matthew Leuenberger and Adam Cooney were in contention.

Unofficial top-up player James Kelly, who trained with the team on Friday, is also expected to be considered for the leadership group.

Kelly, 32, won three flags during his 273 games at Geelong.

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