Captains picked for Lions' pride

February 02, 2018

Jason Cole, Dylan Scopel and Ben Clifton

The Lions have picked their leadership team for season 2018 and coach Nick Jewell is glad there will be experience at each end of the ground.

Jason Cole, who has played 121 games and kicked 94 goals for the Lions — as well as representing Goulburn Valley League and Vic Country — will captain the side in 2018. Ben Clifton, who represented Goulburn Valley League in 2016 and 2017, and Dylan Scopel, who has played 121 games for the Lions since debuting in 2009, have been selected as co-vice captains.

While Clifton debuted with the Lions in 2005, he has also played 110 senior games with Coburg in the VFL. Jewell said despite losing some senior players in the off-season, the Lions’ new leadership team would hold the side in good stead for the upcoming season.

‘‘We’ve obviously lost some experience over the off-season, with a few guys being aligned with the previous coach, but those three guys who have been in the leadership group have so far just been terrific leaders around the place in my time there.’’

With Cole, a hard-running midfielder, Scopel a born-again defender and Clifton a midfielder who can push forward and kick goals, Jewell said his leaders are nicely spread across the ground. Adding to this, Jewell said his leadership team had a good mix of personalities and communication styles.

‘‘Dylan is a pretty vocal sort of guy and hasn’t missed a beat on the track the whole time,’’ Jewell said.

‘‘He’s been leading the way with fitness sessions and weights — I don’t think he’s missed a single training yet.

‘‘Ben is a school teacher by trade, so he communicates really well out on the track with the guys. 

‘‘We’ve had a lot of new drills and a new game plan coming in . . . and when the time is right he’s been there explaining and going over some extra points with the guys on the side.

‘‘Jason is just a leader by example. He hasn’t been out on the track at full speed; he’s been rehabilitating his hamstring that he had last year. But he hasn’t missed a session since his honeymoon, and his due diligence with his rehab and in the gym he’s always been first there and last to leave.’’

Since taking the reins in October last year, Jewell has had plenty of time to get to know his charges, and said the Lions were a close-knit group of players. This, he said, was a vital part of any team’s success.

But while Cole, Scopel and Clifton have been identified for their leadership characteristics, Jewell said he had also figured out who had the best banter in the team.

‘‘There’s a fair few there,’’ he said. ‘‘But Xavier McMahon seems to be the joker in the side . . . and he’s actually at the academy joining the police, so it’s a bit of a worry because he’s going to have a set of handcuffs and a firearm.’’

- Gus McCubbing

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