In only two games as stand-in captain, Crows’ young defender Tom Doedee has already shown the qualities of a true captain of the future.
While many Adelaide fans wade through the deep darkness of 2020, Doedee has been a beacon of light after returning this season from a distressing ACL injury in 2019.
In just his fifth season, Doedee has been more than impressive behind the scenes, demonstrating maturity well beyond his years.
Most notably in 2019, he helped develop young players Will Hamill and Andrew McPherson in his spare time, all while facing his own personal battles with knee rehabilitation.
But ever since a hand injury struck captain Rory Sloane at the end of Round Six, those natural leadership talents have come to the fore, embracing the temporary title with bounteous enthusiasm.
And what’s more, he already has the endorsement of Adelaide’s most coveted leader – two-time premiership captain, Mark Bickley.
When asked if the 23-year-old could be a future captain of the club, Bickley was unequivocal.
“Just his maturity. For him to have played 28 games and to have the calmness and confidence in his own ability to not just play footy, but to also instruct and direct is great.”
Included into Adelaide’s leadership group for the first time in 2020, Doedee’s leadership qualities were identified early.
And while Sloane’s injury was accepted as a major blow for the team, it also presented a perfect taste-testing opportunity for the up-and-coming leader.
“I think his standing in the club over the last 12 months has been given a huge boost because of his selfless nature,” Bickley said.
“For him to be included in the leadership group at the start of the year after playing just 20 games, and missing all of last season, there’s clearly people who have watched and observed what he’s been doing around the club away from football.”
As a player who reached the ultimate heights at the helm twice in his career for Adelaide, Bickley says Doedee handled the responsibility better than anyone could’ve asked for.
“Last week in his first game as captain, having lived through that myself, there’s enormous doubt in terms of how it’ll all unfold, wanting to do the right thing for the team, and then personally performing well,” he said.
“He was outstanding, he was the Crows best player, he took great marks, made great decisions, and set the tone with his physical attack on the opposition.”
Head coach Matthew Nicks has already instilled his belief in his stand-in skipper, saying, “Tom epitomises everything we want in a leader.”
“He is selfless, resilient and level-headed, both on and off the field, and his performances are at an elite level.”
His most recent performance against Essendon in Round Eight saw adversity return to Doedee, facing a hamstring issue at the beginning of the second half.
However, with ice strapped to his right leg and the team fighting a tough comeback in the final quarter, nothing was going to be left to chance on his watch.
Spotted walking up and down the boundary line – despite his injury – Doedee was instructing and influencing the play in the dying moments, and providing one-on-one advise to younger players as they came off the ground.
He took full control of the situation with calmness, like any instinctive leader would.
Bickley can see big things ahead for Doedee, and hopes that it’s only the beginning for the Crows’ prodigy.
“[As a leader] you’ve got to be able to live and breathe the teams values. First and foremost through performance, and then there’s care factor, making everyone in the team feel valued.”
“Having people who include others and reassure, and make them feel like they’re contributing to the club is really important and one of the main roles of being a skipper”
“No doubt he’s ticked a lot of those boxes already”
“I hope that he isn’t going to miss too many games so that he can still have another two or three games as skipper, so he can continue to develop as a leader for Adelaide.”
Adelaide reported on Monday that his hamstring scans came back as “low-grade” and is still in the selection mix for Round Nine against North Melbourne.