Travis Boak has been appointed captain of the Port Adelaide Football Club from the 2013 AFL season, with fellow midfielder Brad Ebert named vice-captain.
Boak takes up the role filled by Dom Cassisi for the past four seasons.
The 24-year-old – who served as vice-captain to Cassisi in 2012 after being appointed to the leadership group in 2011 – becomes the 69th captain in Port Adelaide’s history and its fifth at AFL level.
“It’s a great honour to be captain of this great club and have the opportunity to play a role that so many outstanding players have filled in the past,” Boak said.
“To take over from Dom who has done such a fantastic job for the club and our group of players is a real privilege for both Brad and me.
“Dom is a true leader of this club and we’ll always work with him to make sure we keep building on the change we’ve had in the pre-season and continue working hard and doing everything we can to make the club really strong.”
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Senior coach Ken Hinkley recommended the leadership appointments, saying Boak and Ebert were outstanding candidates based on observations throughout his first pre-season at Alberton and extensive consultation with the playing group and coaching staff.
“Coming in as a new coach, I had the benefit of being able to really take a fresh look at all the players’ leadership qualities over the past three months,” Hinkley said.
“We’ve watched the actions of the boys throughout pre-season right back to the trip overseas in late October, looking at their ability to show leadership and demonstrate it on a daily basis.
“There’s no doubt that we have got the right leaders in Travis and Brad. They are players of significance ready to play important roles on the field and off.
“Leadership is a big part of our club’s stability and I want a long-term structure to go along with me as a new coach, so I am thrilled that we have players of such calibre and character to be in a position to make this renewal and transition for my first season.”
Hinkley praised Cassisi for his approach to the process, saying the 30-year-old could easily have been reappointed captain if the club was not satisfied its next generation of leaders was ready to step up.
“Dom and I have had a really mutual understanding and basically agreed that if we got to the end of pre-season and no-one was ready to take over, he could certainly be captain again,” Hinkley said.
“He was comfortable with that from the very beginning and we have got to the point where we absolutely know we’ve got people ready to step up and create the next era of leadership for Port Adelaide.
“The great thing is that we don’t lose Dom as a leader of this club. He is making a transition as we’ve seen with great players at other clubs. He won’t have the title, but he’ll still have a significant influence on what we do as a club and his immense range of experience over some tough years will be a tremendous asset to us.”
Cassisi said it had been an honour to lead Port Adelaide through his 75 games as captain.
“I think it’s the perfect time for the club and the perfect opportunity,” Cassisi said.
“I’ve done the role for four years and the club’s going through some really important change. Boaky and Brad are ready for the challenge and the club couldn’t be in better hands.”
Boak becomes captain after playing 108 AFL games for Port Adelaide since his debut in 2007 and following his selection in the 2006 AFL Draft (No. 5 overall).
“Nothing will change too much from the past and what has got me here, and that’s continually working hard and trying to set an example for the rest of the group,” Boak said of his leadership style.
“That’s the way I’ll do it. I’ll continue to voice up and challenge guys and continue to help them improve and hopefully lead the club to some successful times.”
Hinkley says the new captain – joint Best and Fairest Medal winner in 2011 - is an influential, enthusiastic and natural leader ready to take charge of an AFL club.
“Travis’s actions in the three months that I’ve been at Port Adelaide have only told me that he is absolutely capable of doing this job,” Hinkley said.
“He has been vice-captain, so his leadership skills have been recognised already and all we’ve done now is put them right on show and say ‘here’s your chance to actually lead’.
“You can tell amongst his team-mates that they look to Travis for leadership and there’s no doubt that he’s capable of delivering.
“His passion is there for the football club and you can see that in the way he prepares and the way he trains, and I am sure people have seen it in the way he plays too.”
Ebert’s elevation to vice-captain comes at the end of his first year back at Alberton from where he was drafted out of the Magpies to the West Coast Eagles in the 2007 AFL Draft (No. 13 overall).
The 22-year-old impressed in his first season with the Power, finishing equal runner-up in the Best and Fairest Medal count after playing all 22 games in 2012 and adding to his 76-game stint with the Eagles.
“I’m very excited by the opportunity,” Ebert said.
“It’s a huge honour having grown up supporting this footy club and watching some of the past players and leaders, so it’s great to have a role supporting Boaky and everyone else involved.
“Going forward, we know that there is plenty of room for improvement on last year and a lot has been done over the pre-season to make sure that we rectify that and improve on where we were.
“I’m excitied about going forward and I know Travis is and the rest of the boys are.
“Having this responsibility now is largely about making sure the improvement starts happening on the field, but so far we feel really good about what we’ve done.”
Hinkley said Ebert had demonstrated his credentials in his short time back at Alberton.
“In 12 months back at the club, Brad couldn’t possibly have made a bigger impression among the players, amongst the coaches and amongst the whole club,” Hinkley said. “He is an absolute professional in what he does, and with Brad that’s all about what he does to make the club better and not just himself better.
“Brad’s a couple of years younger than Travis, but he’s doing everything he can to be a great leader himself and I am sure that progression will be natural.”
Port Adelaide will announce the additional members of its 2013 leadership group later in the pre-season.
In keeping with tradition at Port Adelaide, Boak will wear the captain’s No. 1 guernsey from 2013 with his No. 10 held vacant for as long as he is leader.
Cassisi will revert to the No. 25 guernsey he wore during 128 games between 2002 and 2008, including the 2004 grand final in which he became part of Port Adelaide’s inaugural AFL premiership team.
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