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James McDonald named Demons skipper

15/01/2009 07:02:22 PM Comments (0)

New Melbourne AFL skipper James McDonald has urged patience as last year's wooden spooners attempt to resurrect their on-field fortunes under his guidance this season.

McDonald, 32, continued a recent trend of clubs appointing low-key but loyal clubmen as skippers when the Demons chose him for the role.

The 200-plus game veteran is a two-time Melbourne best and fairest, but turns 33 later this year and is surely in the twilight of his 12-year career.

But coach Dean Bailey said McDonald was a unanimous choice - respected by both young and experienced teammates after rising from humble beginnings on the club's rookie list.

McDonald's first point of business was to caution expectant Demons fans that turning around a side which won just three games in a wretched 2008 would take time.

"Members and supporters, they want results, but it does take a bit of time," McDonald said.

"Last year we hit the bottom, no doubt about that.

"We've put in a good pre-season ... and we'll be trying to get the right systems in place to develop our young players.

"All the signs are good, but it does take time. We'll be looking for improvement from the younger players.

"That's going to be a big part for me, helping to speed up their development."

Bailey was also cautious about what lies ahead for the Demons in 2009, as they attempt to give more game time to a youthful list and ease players like No.1 draft pick Jack Watts into what they hope will be 10-year roles for the club.

But Bailey said it was important rebuilding didn't become a smokescreen for non-competitiveness.

"When you look at re-shaping how we do things, I think supporters would realise that if you've got a young list, it does taken a couple of pre-seasons to develop," Bailey said.

"A bit of patience, but we don't want to rely on that as an excuse. We still need to be competitive."

McDonald was caretaker captain last season after long-time leader David Neitz was injured and eventually forced to retire.

Bailey said the club's leadership group and coaches, who made the final call on appointing McDonald, had no doubt he was the right man for the job.

"All roads led to James McDonald - it was swift, it was quick, it was unanimous," Bailey said.

"He's incredibly well respected among his teammates to the degree when James talks, you can hear a pin drop."

Midfielder Cameron Bruce was named vice-captain.

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