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Tuesday, March 29, 2022 - 2:52 PM

By Ken Casellas

Declan Mountford, a hard-running midfielder and a wonderful versatile team player who leads by example, has been appointed captain of Claremont’s league side for the 2022 season.

Dual Sandover medallist Jye Bolton has been chosen as vice-captain, and he and Mountford will be joined in the leadership group by Jared Hardisty, Jack Lewsey, Alex Manuel, Ronin O’Connor, Ryan Lim and Lachie Martinis.

The 25-year-old Mountford enjoyed an unexpected early start to the 2022 season when he played with the West Coast Eagles in their round-two match against North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium. He was called into action by the Eagles as a COVID contingency list player because the club was decimated by the unavailability of several players.

Mountford, a member of Claremont’s 2015 colts premiership side, excelled in his run-with assignment against North’s Jy Simpkin, and eight of his 12 possessions were contested. He also delivered the ball inside his side’s 50m attacking arc four times and capped an excellent performance with a goal in the final quarter.

It was an interesting situation, with Mountford representing the Eagles against North Melbourne, the club which chose him in the 2015 national draft. This was a remarkable déjà vu moment, considering that Mountford made his AFL debut with the Kangaroos against the Eagles at the Docklands (Marvel Stadium) in round one in 2017.

A left shoulder injury which required surgery and a foot and hamstring injuries seriously affected his opportunities with North Melbourne. He was delisted at the end of 2018 and returned to Claremont after having played 12 AFL matches for North Melbourne and 28 for the club’s affiliated sides Werribee and the Kangaroos reserves.

His appearance for the Eagles marked his return to AFL action after an absence of four years and seven months.

Mountford has been a shining light for the Tigers in the past three seasons. He finished second in the E. B. Cook Medal as the league side’s fairest-and-best player in 2019 when he polled 323 votes, just three votes behind the winner Kane Mitchell. Then he finished fourth in the fairest-and-best award in both 2020 and 2021.