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Bombers recruit Rayner

BTV: Meet Johnny Rayner Essendon new recruit Johnny Rayner
After I played for the Western Jets, I decided to go down the athletics path but recently the fire has been burning and I realised I wanted to play football again.
Johnny Rayner

Essendon Football Club is pleased to announce Johnny Rayner will join the Bombers as a rookie listed player under the club's Alternative Talent Program.

The 22-year-old, who is a national champion runner and studying a degree in medicine, has decided to shelve his athletics career in a bid to play for the team he has supported since he was a boy.

Rayner has been offered a one-year contract with the Bombers and will be the first player to be placed on the club’s Rookie B List. He qualifies as a Rookie B as he hasn’t been registered in an Australian football competition for the past three years. 

The midfielder was previously overlooked at the 2009 National Draft despite a stellar season with the Western Jets where he finished fourth in their best and fairest and was selected in the TAC Cup Team of the Year.

Rayner turned his attention to athletics and carved out a successful career as a middle distance runner, he represented Australia at youth level on a number of occasions and last year won the men’s 800m race at the Australian National Championships.

Rayner said the decision to leave athletics was difficult, but he was thrilled to have been given an opportunity to play AFL.

“I’m very excited to be pulling on the red and black jumper,” Rayner said.

“I supported the club as a child and it’s a bit of a cliché, but it is really a dream come true to be playing for Essendon.

“After I played for the Western Jets, I decided to go down the athletics path but recently the fire has been burning and I realised I wanted to play football again.

“I’m very thankful the opportunity came about to play with Essendon and I am looking forward to meeting my new teammates and getting started over the pre-season.”

List Manager Adrian Dodoro praised Rayner’s versatility and said he was an exciting prospect for the club.

“Johnny comes on to our Rookie B List which is our first foray into taking a player on to this list,” Dodoro said.

“Given the fact that we lost our first and second round draft picks this year, we’ve had to think outside the box with our draft picks. We were actually really close to placing him on our rookie list three to four years ago but he is a professional athlete and we think he’ll set some really high standards at this football club.

“We think he is completely worthy of the opportunity and we’re thrilled to have him at the club.” 

Make sure to check back to efc.com.au at lunch time on Thursday to hear from the Bombers newest recruit.