Callum Mills won’t play for the Sydney Swans until at least the second half of the AFL season after suffering a serious shoulder injury during some off-season hijinks with teammates which rocked the club.
But not enough for their faith in the superstar All Australian to be impacted, with the Swans confirming Mills would be the club’s solo captain in 2024.
It’s a stunning show of support from the Swans in the 26-year-old who has been sharing the captaincy duties with Dane Rampe and Luke Parker who had been clubs leader since 2019.
Mills, who has played 155-games for the Swans, was first elevated to co-captain alongside the duo in 2022 and will now take the role solo, despite his playing return remaining unclear having torn his rotator cuff while wrestling teammate Jacob Konstanty at a Surry Hills pub in September.
Last week teammate Isaac Heeney said Mills, who is already taking part in non-contact drills and lifting weights with his surgically repaired shoulder, was “dominating rehab”, showing his leadership qualities.
“He’s one of the toughest people I’ve ever met, one of the best leaders I’ve met,” Isaac Heeney said last week.
“For him to do what he’s done at such a young age and come through, I guess this is just a little hurdle and it’s gonna make him a better person, better player.
“He’s dominating his rehab and it’ll be good to have him back because he’ll come back a stronger and better person.”
Mills said it was an “absolute honour” to be the club’s lone captain.
“I grew up as a Swans supporter and am a proud New South Welshman, so having the opportunity to lead this great club is not lost on me,” he said.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed co-captaining with Dane and Luke, their leadership has shaped the club to what it is today and I will still be learning from them going forward.
“I cannot wait to get back to full fitness and run out with my teammates to the roar of an SCG crowd.”
It’s likely the members of the yet to be announced extended leadership group would captain the side on a rotating basis until Mills returns.
Sydney Swans Executive General Manager of Football – AFL, Leon Cameron, said Mills was the standout choice to lead the team into the future.
“Callum is one of the hardest working players at the club and is a natural born leader,” Cameron said.
“He is a fantastic young man and is extremely invested in the success of this football club.”
Senior coach John Longmire paid tribute to former co-captains Luke Parker and Dane Rampe.
“I want to personally thank Ramps and Parks for playing important roles as co-captains of this football club, and I and the playing group will still be leaning on them for guidance going forward,” Longmire said.
“I first met Callum when he was in the Academy and he was a standout even at that young age and had genuine leadership potential.
“We feel as though the time is right for Callum to be the sole captain and lead the group going forward.”
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