The whole world thinks Chris Judd is the
right man to replace Ben Cousins as West Coast Eagles captain. All the footy
pundits have been singing his praises since well before the decision was announced.

As Judd himself acknowledged yesterday,
the decision was probably made by the club soon after Cousins answered his first
round of questions from WA police, but took its time to make if from boardroom
to broadsheet.

But when the club yesterday presented Judd
as the new game day coin tosser, the honour of captaining the West Coast Eagles
did not seem to overwhelm him.

It could be reticence on the part of a
young player (he’s only 22) to take on a responsibility that will use the same time
and energy that would otherwise be spent spinning out of impossibly tight
situations on the field or kicking miraculous goals.

There’s not much doubt Judd would have
accepted the role had it been offered in more natural circumstances. Given the
club was looking three or four years into the future and still seeing Cousins
as captain, the job vacancy was a shock to everyone. When the possibility of
being chosen for the role was raised with Judd, he played it down, suggesting
there were others better suited to it.

That could be seen as Judd not filing his
resume with the HR department, or the natural inclination of players to
downplay their chances publicly. We saw it again this week with Jason
Gillespie, who, on the cusp of a Test recall, spoke highly of his chief rival
for the job, Shaun Tait.

Now that Judd has accepted the captaincy,
you suspect he’s going to do a fine job, even if he has to grow into the role. How
it affects his on-field performance only time will tell.

Nevertheless, there’s a nagging question
here. Will his new role as captain keep him in the West past the end of his
current contract? I’ll bet you a dollar the Eagles are hoping so, and were
hoping so when they identified Judd as their new leader.

Peter Fray

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