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Selwood's longevity

Peter Ryan - AFL Media  March 16, 2017 9:23 PM

AFL 2017 Portraits - AFL Captains Day

Joel Selwood at the MCG on Captains' Day

AFTER an off-season of leadership change, the AFL's youngest club suddenly has two of the three longest-serving captains in the game.

Greater Western Sydney co-captains Callan Ward and Phil Davis sit alongside Geelong champion Joel Selwood as the only players to have retained the title since the Giants played its first game in 2012.

Ward was shocked when that fact was relayed as part of his introduction to supporters at the Giants season launch in early February.

He says experience has made him a much better leader than he was when he first wore the title.

"When I first took over I had no idea what I was doing, obviously trying my best and learning from guys like Luke Power, Dean Brogan, Chad Cornes and James McDonald," Ward told AFL.com.au.

"I was just taking it all in. I was co-captain but I wasn't doing much besides listening to everything and soaking everything up. I have definitely come a long way since then."

Can Callan Ward lead the Giants to glory in 2017? Picture: AFL Photos

The extent of change among clubs was evident at AFL captains' day on Thursday at the MCG.

Nine clubs gave the title to a new player in between seasons. with the Brisbane Lions' decision to give Dayne Beams the captaincy ahead of Tom Rockliff two weeks ago the final change for 2017.

Beams' elevation saw him join Essendon's Dyson Heppell (taking over from Jobe Watson), Gold Coast pair Tom Lynch and Steven May (Gary Ablett), Hawthorn's Jarryd Roughead (Luke Hodge), North Melbourne's Jack Ziebell (Andrew Swallow), St Kilda's Jarryn Geary (Nick Riewoldt) and the Sydney Swans' Josh Kennedy (Kieren Jack and Jarrad McVeigh) as new skippers for 2017.

Melbourne's Jack Viney also became skipper for the first time when he was appointed to share the captaincy with the incumbent Nathan Jones.

Every skipper replaced a teammate who remains on the playing list as clubs institute succession plans.

It's the greatest number of captaincy changes to occur in one off-season since the competition officially became the AFL in 1990, with the lead-in to 2008 the most recent off-season of dramatic change.

In that summer, Adelaide appointed Simon Goodwin as skipper while Carlton elevated Chris Judd straight into the job. Scott Burns became Magpies skipper for one season, Sam Mitchell took over at the Hawks and Darren Glass steered West Coast through troubled waters.

In that year, all those new captains replaced retired skippers, and the Brisbane Lions reduced their number of co-captains from five to four, with premiership defender Chris Johnson dropping the title.

At St Kilda, Nick Riewoldt took over as sole skipper after sharing the job with Luke Ball and Lenny Hayes in 2007, and Sydney installed Craig Bolton as co-captain alongside Leo Barry and Brett Kirk, replacing Barry Hall in the role.

Ward said although his first season as captain was a blur, he had improved as a teammate with the responsibility.

"It really helps you think about yourself and how you can help others," he said.

Ward was club best and fairest in 2012 and finished top three each year between 2012 and 2015. He was unlucky to miss out on All Australian selection after being a nominee in 2014 and 2016.