14/04/2024

Tom Doedee has been seriously impressed with the leadership shown from one of Adelaide's young stars. (Image: Adelaide Crows)

Ahead of the 2022 AFL Premiership season, one Crows youngster has caught Tom Doedee's eye with their newfound leadership capabilities.

With a talented, young, squad developing in Adelaide, the call for young leaders to assert themselves within the playing group has provided the emergence of one rising star in particular.

Having been added to the Crows’ leadership group at just 22 years of age, Tom Doedee knows all about stepping up as a leader amongst more senior heads.

Now two years later, and with captaincy experience under his belt, he has identified the next player following in his footsteps amongst Adelaide’s squad.

Speaking with media on Monday, Doedee outlined hard-working, small forward Ned McHenry as someone that has taken his leadership capabilities to next level in the absence of some of the team’s senior members.

“Ned has probably taken another step in the leadership role which we’re loving at the moment, he’s taken a load off some of the older boys,” Doedee said.

“We’ve had Rory Sloane on the sideline for a little bit, Matt Crouch [also out injured], pre-Christmas I was in doing a bit of rehab, building back up again.

“Ned’s just taken that mantle and run with it, he talks a lot in general, but on the field he’s just incredible with direction. I’ve been very pleased with his ability to train at the level, run at the level, but then also voice and demand at an elite level.”

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In preparation for the 2022 season, Doedee is also focusing a lot on his leadership and influence within the squad.

“For me [this year’s goal is] to just continue to build,” he said.

“I love this group I want to keep developing relationships, take that next step as a leader in terms of demand and keep being that sort of ‘older brother’ figure that I can be, looking after the blokes.

“Then as a footballer, just keep getting better. I think as a backs group [is] playing, the connection’s improving, and that ability to help and roll off and defend as a group, rather than one-on-one.

“[Leadership] is something I’ve always gravitated towards and always enjoyed, that element of sports, that ability to lead and influence a group.

“I think with the young group it obviously helps because it’s easier to relate, but also the connection with the older boys has been great these last couple of years.

“Being in the leadership group, being able to learn from Sloaney, Matt Crouch, Brodie Smith, Tom Lynch last year and having Taylor Walker here.

“It’s just something I’ve always found myself leaning towards and enjoying that element of it, and with this group being so easy to lead, they listen, they implement, they try to get better, you don’t have to do a whole lot.”

His natural growth as a leader at Adelaide has appeared seamless as the club place full faith in his ability to be one of the ‘go to’ men, particularly for the clubs younger playing group.

“For me it’s more just that natural progression, as you progress in your career, you feel more comfortable, develop relationships more.

“[You] become, not a better leader, but you just have more knowledge of the game plan, you know players better, you know the coaching staff better and you can communicate that well.

“This year I’ve got to focus on the demand of the group and making sure we’re at the standard and that’s personally my focus. That’s been more self implemented, it’s not something that [coach] Matthew Nicks comes and says ‘we want you to get better in this regard’.

“So in terms of that progression through leadership, it’s more driven by me, but still try to learn from everyone around me.”

Doedee is adamant on not looking too far ahead, but is one of the front-runners to become the next captain of the Adelaide Football Club when Rory Sloane eventually steps down.

He’s been included in the leadership group for the past two seasons, and is generally regarded as one of the most promising leaders in the competition.

“I try not to look too far ahead in that regard [captaincy], that stuff usually tends to take care of itself and at the moment we’re extremely lucky to have Sloaney at the head,” Doedee said.

“Off field around the club he’s extremely compassionate and incredibly demanding of the group, but in terms of ‘arm around the shoulder’ stuff, he’s one of the best we’ve seen.”

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