Suns stick with Lynch and May, elevate Witts
GOLD Coast has stuck with co-captains Steven May and Tom Lynch for the coming season, and elevated second-year Suns pair Pearce Hanley and Jarrod Witts to leadership positions.
It will mean Lynch - the face of the club, a restricted free agent and the biggest out-of-contract star in the game - will have little chance of avoiding constant questioning over his future.
The 25-year-old stands to become the biggest earner in the game if he can recapture his stellar form of 2015 and 2016 this season.
He has indicated he will not begin to consider his options until midway through the season, with the Suns determining the uncertainty over his future should have no bearing on his leadership credentials.
New mentor Stuart Dew, who has seen co-captaincy models work with success while an assistant coach at Sydney, said the attitude of the pair over the summer had made them obvious candidates to again lead the side.
The players, football department and the board were all canvassed on the captaincy before the decision was made to stick with the pair of foundation stars.
"Both Tom and Steven have been extremely invested in the program since my arrival on the Gold Coast, and have earned the privilege of captaining our club for a second year," he said.
David Swallow, Matt Rosa, Michael Barlow and Touk Miller will again join Lynch and May in the player leadership group, and will be joined by Witts and Hanley, who earned elevation after making an immediate impact on their teammates in their first season at the Suns last year.
"Both Jarrod and Pearce are experienced AFL players, and have demonstrated significant leadership capabilities over the pre-season," Dew said.
"The eight-man leadership group will work closely with myself and the entire football department to ensure we can create an environment that is aligned to our values and provides the best possible opportunity for growth."
Michael Rischitelli, 32, will step down from the leadership group.
The midfielder has a fight to regain his position in the senior side after the majority of his 2017 campaign was wiped out following a knee reconstruction in 2016.