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Long takes a big step

BTV: Mark Neeld interview - February 6, 2015 Development Coach Mark Neeld spoke to BTV about the development of the squad, and how training is ramping up with games now only just around the corner.

Jake Long has started his career at Essendon in fine fashion with the club’s coaching group pleased with the work ethic and attitude of the father/son rookie selection.

After training with the club’s James Hird Academy over the last few seasons Long found his way onto the rookie list during December’s rookie draft.

Despite injury issues through his junior career Long has completed majority of the pre-season unscathed in a positive sign of things to come.

Head of Development Mark Neeld said he could not be more impressed with the way the 18-year-old has approached his first pre-season on an AFL list. 

“Across the whole club we have been impressed with his work ethic and his ability to come in and build relationships with the senior players and have a bit of fun at the same time,” Neeld said.

“In terms of a person he has a bit of a cheeky grin about him and I think over the years he might develop into the club prankster.

“There is also a hard edge to him and we can really see that through his training.”

Neeld said it was pleasing to see Long taking such significant steps throughout the pre-season so far given his indifferent journey onto an AFL list.

“He hasn’t followed what would now be called the traditional pathway into league footy because he didn’t play TAC Cup football at all despite going to school in Melbourne,” he said.

“Jake has come through the James Hird Academy, he played a couple of games for the NT representative sides and he has been injured a lot over the last couple of years.

“I think he has only played about six games of football for the last two seasons so he is going to take some time.”

Long’s father Michael was a champion player for Essendon pulling on the famous red sash for 190 games including the 1993 Norm Smith Medal.