Demons coach Simon Goodwin said Viney, the robust midfielder who relishes leadership, would not be distracted by having been overlooked for the top role.
“He was disappointed, as you would hope so. He is a very passionate man, Jack, and he takes his leadership very seriously,” Goodwin said.
“It’s a great honour to be a captain of a footy club. But you don’t know Jack Viney if you don’t understand where he comes from. His one thing since he walked through these doors is to make the club great and be a part of something really special.
“His leadership won’t change. The way he plays won’t change. My conversations with him have been really simple – he is all in. He wants this club to be the best club it can be. He wants to support Max in the best way he can. There will be people that say: ‘Is he all in?’ Well, if you ask that question, you don’t know Jack Viney. He has never been more passionate about this football club.”
Gawn had breakfast with Viney on Monday and was reassured that he would be a fine deputy.
“Me and Jack have a great relationship. I remember two years ago, obviously, when he got appointed captain, [he said] it’s going to be me and you that are going to take this club forward,” Gawn said.
“I said the same thing to him this morning. It’s going to be me and him that take this club forward. Obviously, we need a lot of help and we are asking all the other 43 players to help us. It’s pretty clear in my mind – Jack continues doing what he is doing and I continue to do what I am doing.”
Where some clubs support extended leadership groups – the Brisbane Lions even have a nine-man group – the Demons have decided “at the moment” this model does not suit their current list.
The Demons last week unveiled a blueprint for both the AFL and AFLW teams to play in the finals in every season from 2020 to 2023, with each claiming at least one premiership.
“It’s something that I really want to do. We had a taste of it, the finals, not long ago and we all want to be back there as quickly as we can,” Gawn said.
“At the moment, we are down at the other end of the ladder. All the hard work that we are putting in, if you walked into the club now, you wouldn’t see a ’17th club’.”
The blueprint came after the Demons, without a flag since 1964, crashed to 17th on the AFL ladder last season, having made the preliminary final a year earlier.
Goodwin said the Demons were aiming for former Docker Harley Bennell to return mid-season from his latest calf injury.
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.