Jack Ziebell steps down: Who will be North Melbourne’s captain?

AFL

Jack Ziebell has officially stood down as North Melbourne’s captain after six years in the position.

Ziebell – who turns 32 in February – felt that it was his time to move on as the club’s skipper and allow the next generation to come through and take over.

“It’s been an absolute privilege to lead the North Melbourne Football Club for six seasons, a club that means so much to me and my family,” Ziebell said, according to the Kangaroos website.

“The captaincy has been an unbelievably rewarding role, I feel lucky to have been given the opportunity and I’m a better person for the experience.

“Now that I’ve reached the later stages of my career the time has come for me to hand over the reins. I’ll be there to support the next captain in any way I can and I have no doubt the incoming captain will lead our club with purpose and passion.”

Ziebell replaced Andrew Swallow at the end of the 2016 season, serving 111 games as North Melbourne’s leader.

However, the void the midfielder-turned-forward has left is an interesting subject, with multiple candidates already thrown in the air for the role.

New coach Alastair Clarkson, along with the rest of the coaches and the players will decide on who will lead the club.

Youngsters Jy Simpkin and Luke Davies-Uniacke have been flagged as potential leaders but may be forced to wait a few years for them to mature.

The favourite to take over Ziebell is defender Luke McDonald, who at age 27 is prime for the main leadership role.

Who will replace Jack Ziebell as captain?

There’s a few candidates that could replace Ziebell as North Melbourne’s skipper in 2023.

As mentioned, the likely three could by Simpkin, McDonald and Davies-Uniacke.

Luke McDonald

McDonald has been at the club since being drafted with pick eight in the 2013 AFL Draft.

Having played 159 games at the club, the defender has seen a lot of legends come and go, including Brent Harvey and would’ve absorbed many leadership tips.

McDonald was awarded the 2020 Syd Barker Medal for North Melbourne’s best player that year and has been a consistent performer throughout.

In the prime of his career, it wouldn’t be a shock if he were given the position.

Jy Simpkin

Simpkin comes into the conversation as a younger player at the club but with a come-with-me demeanour that is reflected by his back-to-back Syd Barker Medals (2021, 2022).

Touted as a gun junior, the 24-year-old has been essentially thrown into the deep-end when he joined the Kangaroos as there’s been limited success from the 2017 season.

Simpkin has put together 116 impressive games and has been a consistent contributor in the midfield, with potential to take his game to the next level.

Throughout the preseason, it was noted by the club that he’d been down at Arden Street more often than not, hinting at his commitment to improve himself and the team’s chances of success.

Luke Davies-Uniacke

Similar to Simpkin, Davies-Uniacke shows leadership through actions but has rapidly built a case for being a future leader at North Melbourne.

Sitting at 23 years of age, the midfielder showcased why he was such a high draft pick in 2017, selected at number four by the Shinboners.

Despite being more of a left-field choice for the captaincy, Davies-Uniacke is the type of player that could thrive in his teammates looking at him for inspiration.

Ben McKay

Likely not the loudest name in the bunch but someone who when speaks, players listen.

McKay comes out of contract at the end of 2023 and would most likely weigh up his playing future if the Kangaroos show little improvement.

However, a rogue yet interesting ploy could be to hand him the skipper role to make him feel more inclined to stay at Arden Street, building more structure and consistency amongst the youthful list.

At 25-years-old, McKay could be another candidate for the captaincy in 2023.

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