THE CARLTON Football Club is today proud to welcome three new additions to its AFL leadership group for the 2020 season.
The playing group has voted defenders Jacob Weitering and Liam Jones and midfielder Sam Walsh to join a seven-man leadership group alongside co-captains Sam Docherty and Patrick Cripps and veterans Marc Murphy and Ed Curnow.
Weitering, Jones and Walsh have been promoted by their peers after coming through the Emerging Leaders program that has been established at the football club to develop the next generation of leaders at Ikon Park.
Carlton Head of Football Brad Lloyd said the promotion of the three players by their teammates was a great sign of the leadership pathway that has been established at the Club.
“In order to fast track our on and off-field leadership, the players and coaches voted to implement an Emerging Leaders group 12 months ago,” Lloyd said.
“This group, which works closely with our Director of High Performance Andrew Russell, has been identified as players who have influence within the Club, and whom can drive standards and support the leadership group. There is a great mix of ages and experience in the Emerging Leaders group, which is an internally run program that covers the unique demands of an AFL environment.
“Jacob, Liam and Sam have come through this program with outstanding leadership qualities and will perfectly complement Patrick Cripps, Sam Docherty, Ed Curnow and Marc Murphy in leading our AFL side in 2020.”
Entering his fifth AFL season, Weitering is the ultimate professional and today’s announcement is a sign of the significant growth the 22-year-old has experienced as a footballer and as a person in recent years.
Having been given the responsibility of playing a key position in the Blues’ backline since he made his AFL debut in Round 1, 2016, Weitering has showcased incredible resilience during his first four seasons. He has emerged as a strong character, determined to lead through his actions to make both himself and his teammates better.
Equally inspirational to the playing group has been the story of Weitering’s defensive partner down back.
Jones turned his career around in 2017, when a shift to defence saw a stunning resurgence in his career and the 28-year-old has not looked back since, becoming a pillar of the Carlton back six.
His selection in the leadership group is the latest chapter to add in Jones’ remarkable story that has been built purely off the back of determination and hard work.
The decision by the players to also vote Walsh into the leadership group comes as no surprise to those inside the four walls of Ikon Park.
From the moment he became a Carlton player in November 2018, Walsh has stepped into the football club ready-made to lead from the front.
An unwavering intensity at training, constant desire to seek feedback and never-ending hunger to become the best footballer he can possibly be, makes the reigning NAB AFL Rising Star a natural leader well beyond his years.
Former skipper and two-time John Nicholls Medallist Murphy will again be a senior leader amongst the playing group, bringing a combined 433 games of AFL experience to the role alongside tireless midfielder Ed Curnow.
Beloved veteran Kade Simpson has made the decision to step aside from this year’s leadership group and although he may not hold an official leadership role in 2020, with 325 games in the Navy Blue under his belt, the 35-year-old will continue to be an invaluable sounding board for his teammates.
Docherty and Cripps said the elected leaders were proud to take on the responsibility and drive the elite standards set by the entire playing group on and off the field.
“This is a significant step in the growth of our football club with our emerging generation of talent now ready to step into senior leadership positions,” Docherty said.
“Weiters, Jonesy and Walshy are exceptional leaders in everything they do, whether it be on the training track, during games and living the values of our football club – that is why they have earned their place in the leadership group.
“It is an honour to lead the Carlton Football Club, even more so when you are given that responsibility by your teammates. All three of them are born for the role, are quality Carlton people and we are excited to see them continue to grow as footballers and as individuals.”
“There may be seven in our leadership group but all 45 players are responsible for driving our club forward and earning success,” Cripps said.
“As leaders we have a responsibility to drive the standards, but across the board we’re challenging each other. We know where we want to get to as a football club but it can’t just be on seven of us to drive that, it is going to take all of us.”