Sicily takes reins as Hawks' AFL captain

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James Sicily will captain Hawthorn for the next four weeks as they reassess their AFL leadership structure in the absence of regular skipper Ben McEvoy.

The Hawks chose McEvoy as their captain for 2022 in a streamlined approach under first-year coach Sam Mitchell.

But the veteran ruckman suffered a neck injury at training last month and is sidelined indefinitely.

The Hawks remain hopeful McEvoy will return to action in the back half of the year.

In the meantime, Sicily and Jaeger O'Meara have been identified as the strongest candidates to fill the void.

O'Meara assumed leadership duties over the past fortnight while Sicily will lead the Hawks for the first time against Melbourne on Saturday night.

The 27-year-old defender's appointment comes after he shed his reputation as a volatile and impulsive player.

"James Sicily is one of those polarising figures in the game," Mitchell told reporters on Wednesday.

"He's probably the most asked-about player ... and he's matured significantly.

"His passion for the game, his understanding of it and his ability to read what's happening live, as well as post-game (is outstanding).

"His passion for not just his own performance but the team's collective performance and the direction that we're going has been significant."

Sicily has made a strong return from the knee injury that sidelined him last season and will play his 100th senior game when Hawthorn tackle Melbourne.

The free agent is one of the best defenders in the game and would attract interest from rival clubs, but has publicly stated he believes a new Hawks deal will be reached.

McEvoy is still wearing a neck brace and is able to do light fitness work in the club gym.

The 32-year-old is expected to take his rehabilitation to the next level one month from now.

Hawthorn will review their leadership structure after round 10, with Sicily and O'Meara both in the mix to take over long-term.

"They've both brought different things to the table but we feel they're both ready to captain the AFL team at the moment," Mitchell said.

"We'll wait and see if anyone else steps up but they're the two stand-out candidates at the moment."

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