Brandon O’Neill and Natasha Rigby to lead Perth Glory into new A-League era as captains
New signing Brandon O’Neill, who has returned home to Perth Glory, and fellow West Australian Natasha Rigby will captain their A-League men’s and women’s sides this season.
Midfielder O’Neill will lead the side for the first time after returning for a second spell at his hometown club while defender Rigby will take the armband for her third campaign.
Both players said they were honoured by the captaincy.
- The ‘only threat’ to Melbourne Cup favourite Incentivise
- Super Netball set for early start in 2022
- Glory boss Sage says he’s close to quitting
“Being a Perth boy and being able to represent your hometown club is a very special feeling. Being named captain on top is something that I’m extremely honoured by,” O’Neill said.
“This role doesn’t define me as a person or a player.
“We have some amazing leaders at this football club, people that I’m learning from every day.
“I think it’s important for me to try and help people become the best versions of themselves and to allow all the lads to be vulnerable enough to say, ‘this is me and I’m ready to have a crack’.
“If we have an environment where people feel safe to be themselves, then I feel that us as a group will only benefit on the pitch.”
Rigby said: “It’s an absolute honour to captain this team and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to do it again this year.
“We have an incredibly exciting squad lined up this season and (coach) Alex Epakis and the club have been working hard to ensure we are set to succeed.
“We are building a specific environment where players feel safe to be themselves and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.
“We have a lot to prove this year and the players have started pre-season with a bang.”
Coaches Richard Garcia and Epakis said both players would bring quality to the role.
“Brandon is a proud Perth boy who understands exactly what the DNA of this club is all about and how much it means to our members and fans,” Garcia said.
“He will lead by example and play a key role in helping drive home the philosophy we want to instill into the playing group.”
Epakis said: “Tash is a standout person and leader.
“Her energy is infectious and she has a deep desire to win whilst always leading by example.
“She deeply values her leadership role and position within the team and represents the club and our values with the highest of standards.
“Tash is a great character and the perfect person to drive the team into what is shaping up to be a very exciting season for us.”
Glory chief executive Tony Pignata is confident the pair can lead the club to success.
“Brandon and Natasha are both superb ambassadors on and off the field and will do a fantastic job of leading their respective teams,” Pignata said.
“As players and as people they truly reflect the core values of the club and I know our members and fans will be thrilled to see them wearing the armband this year.”
Meanwhile Glory owner Tony Sage, who claimed earlier this week that he had come close to “throwing in the towel”, believes he has enough corporate support to carry on.
Speaking at the club’s 25th season launch on Thursday Sage said the possibility that WA will be shut out from sport as other states look to drop border restrictions could still leave the club in dire straits.
He said Premier Mark McGowan’s comments that the state would not open to Victoria and NSW until “sometime in the first half of next year” had hit him “like a ton of bricks”.
“Over the 14 years of ownership, of all the difficult times, this is one of the most difficult,” Sage said.
“Very, very difficult times. Members want certainty, the players want certainty but corporate support...there’s enough support for Perth Glory to continue on.”
Glory lost $4 million in last season’s COVID-hit campaign when they missed out on the finals and Sage said he faced more huge losses if sides were not allowed into WA.
He said the club needed 10-12,000 members to break even but had only signed up 6000 with just four weeks before the new season kicks off.
“Very, very difficult financially,” Sage said.
“I’ve had long and hard talks with the APL (A-League governing body Australian Professional Leagues) and they understand our position and are willing to compromise.
“If the WA Government compromises we’ll have a lot of home games.
“We just hope the government has a plan for professional sport.”
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails