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26 Feb 2014

By ZAC MILBANK | Twitter @zacmilbank

South Adelaide’s Nick Murphy has been recalled to the Panthers’ leadership group, with the hard-working midfielder to join Josh Thewlis as co-captain in 2014.

Murphy, who captained the club in 2011 and 2012, has regained his mantle under new South coach Brad Gotch, who has engaged the popular ‘’Leading Teams’’ model.

‘’Watching from afar as I’ve done for the past few years you heard about Nick’s (leadership) attributes,’’ Gotch said.

‘’Then when I got here I wanted to make a clean slate with everything so we brought in Leading Teams and decided to follow that process.

‘’If you are going to do anything properly then you have to back that system. And the system was that everyone gets judged from day one of this season, irrespective of past seasons and what’s gone on.

‘’Nick has been tremendous in that.’’

A player-driven vote at the Panthers’ recent summer training camp in Victor Harbor ensured Murphy and Thewlis won the respect of their peers.

‘’Nick got the second most votes, Josh got the most and it was nearly a whitewash with those two in front,’’ Gotch said.

‘’And you just can’t discount that as you can only be judged on your behaviour. So it was a no-brainer for me.’’

After being elevated to the Panthers’ captaincy last year, Thewlis is certain to benefit from Murphy’s support as he enters the twilight of his SANFL career.

‘’In 2003, at (VFL club) Williamstown, I had co-captains,’’ Gotch said.

‘’I have only ever done it once while I’ve been coaching but it just made a lot of sense. Josh is 30 and he didn’t have the best year last year. But he’s really keen and has got a second wind.

‘’He’s got certain attributes which are brilliant in leadership and Nick really complements him.

‘’Nick has a few traits that Josh doesn’t have so when you combine the two of them, it is exactly what you are looking for (in a captain).’’

The pair headlines an eight-man leadership group at Noarlunga in 2014, with loyal backman Brad Crabb, ruckman Keegan Brooksby and reliable midfielder Xavier Gotch joint vice-captains.

Former Eagle Nathan Daniel, small defender Tarak Redigolo and star on-baller Nick Liddle round out those charged with leading the Panthers this season.

‘’Coming to South, we’ve got to develop the leadership side of things,’’ Gotch noted.

‘’So to have a few more guys interested (in leadership), we really need to encourage that.’’

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