Essendon has appointed premiership defender Alex Rance to the position of part-time development coach.
The five-time All-Australian will work closely with current development coaches Leigh Tudor and Cam Roberts in helping develop the club’s key-position and Jack Jones Academy (first- to fourth-year players) players.
After announcing his retirement from the AFL in 2019 following an illustrious 200-game career with Richmond, the 31-year-old recently donned the sash for the VFL Bombers in a one-off appearance against Southport in the club’s final state league game of the year.
In that match, Rance impressed with his strong leadership, communication and football knowledge, which proved to be an invaluable experience for a host of Dons youngsters.
Rance will trade his playing boots for whiteboards and magnets when he reunites with familiar faces at the NEC Hangar, having played under current senior coach Ben Rutten (then-Richmond defence coach) and Blake Caracella (then-Richmond assistant coach) in the Tigers’ 2017 premiership side.
Rance said he couldn’t wait to join the Bombers for the 2022 season.
“I’m really excited to join the Bombers as a development coach for next season,” Rance said.
“I couldn’t think of a better place to start my journey as a coach in the AFL. Having familiar faces in ‘Truck’ (Ben Rutten) and ‘Cara’ (Blake Caracella) around to work with was really appealing to me.
“I really enjoyed my experience with the VFL Bombers up in Queensland earlier this year, and I loved helping those young players grow and learn, which will be a big part of my role here.
“I can’t wait to get started and help the club towards success.”
General manager of football Josh Mahoney said Rance’s appointment was a big acquisition for the club.
“We’re thrilled to add Alex to our coaching group for the 2022 season,” Mahoney said.
“We have a young, developing group. Alex will bring leadership and a high-performance mindset to the entire squad, as well as focusing on developing the fundamentals of our key-position players.
“We look forward to Alex’s contribution to the club in helping develop our players who are looking for continual improvement.”