CAMPBELL Brown will not only lose his senior leadership position at the Gold Coast this season but could be removed from the leadership group altogether when his teammates vote next week for the club's 2012 on-field leaders.
While Nathan Bock is expected to retain the Suns' vice-captaincy despite his role in a betting plunge which has seen him suspended until round three, Brown's position in the leadership group is under threat more for his on-field indiscretions early last season than the September incident in Thailand for which he was stripped of the deputy vice-captaincy.
And code-hopper Karmichael Hunt, who did not want to join the Suns leadership group in his first AFL season, is being encouraged to put his hand up this time. A significantly leaner and fitter Hunt is on the verge of signing a new contract with the club that would secure him until the end of 2014.
Brown is expected to be replaced by Michael Rischitelli as deputy vice-captain. Despite his popularity among his teammates, the 28-year-old defender endured a disappointing debut season at his new club, missing games not only through injury but also due to a four-week suspension. Brown was punished for two incidents and his hit on Callan Ward prompted the AFL to rewrite its match review panel rulings on behind-the-play incidents.
Coach Guy McKenna said afterwards that Brown had let the team down following the early-season indiscretions and the club was particularly disappointed in the Ward incident.
Like Brown, Bock apologised to his teammates after being fined and suspended for passing on team information to a relative that led to a round-24 first-goal betting plunge. The Gold Coast board is understood to have debated the issue of Bock retaining the vice-captaincy and chose to retain him given ongoing off-field work mentoring younger players and his honesty in owning up to his part in the plunge.
Bock told his Suns bosses after the round-24 game against Hawthorn that he feared family members might have correctly bet on him to kick the first goal. He called AFL football boss Adrian Anderson on the Monday after the game to confess he had passed on team information.
While the Suns players will vote on the leadership group, the senior positions of Gary Ablett (captain), Bock and Rischitelli appear settled. Youngsters Zac Smith and David Swallow look certain to retain their place as young leaders at the club embarking upon its second AFL season.