Essendon forward James Stewart has signed a two-year contract extension, keeping him in the red and black until at least the end of 2022.
Drafted by Greater Western Sydney with pick No.27 in the 2012 national draft, Stewart was traded to Essendon in 2016 and has played 37 games for the Bombers in four seasons.
While not featuring in the club’s senior side in 2019 due to a persistent groin injury, the resilient 26-year-old played his first AFL game in 790 days in this year’s round nine clash against Brisbane.
The 199cm key forward then featured in nine consecutive games, booting 11 goals from his 10 matches in 2020.
Stewart said he was pleased to agree to terms with the club for a further two years.
“I’m very happy to extend until at least the end of 2022 and commit to building towards the success we are after as a footy club,” Stewart said.
“2020 has been such a unique year and on reflection, I have absolutely loved the challenges that have been brought about from it. I feel like I have grown both as a person and as a player during this time.
“I’m looking forward to developing my game closely under ‘Truck’ (Ben Rutten) over another pre-season as we move into the 2021 season.
“I look forward to resuming at the club with the boys for training and the thought of playing at home on the G’ with our supporters again next season excites me.
“I would also love to make special mention to my family and friends at home who have shown me amazing love and support, not only during this tough year but always.”
General manager of list and recruiting Adrian Dodoro said the club was pleased to have retained the key forward.
“We’re really happy to have re-signed James, who we believe is a real quality key forward,” Dodoro said.
“It’s great to see the way he has come back from his injuries in 2019. He really became a focal point for us in the second half of the season and competed really well in the 10 games he played.
“He’s a powerful player standing at nearly two metres tall and we believe if he can keep his body right, then he can be the player we need up forward to either take contested marks or bring the ball to ground for our small forwards.
“We look forward to seeing what James can produce with continual improvement over the coming years.”
Stewart's re-signing follows those of Jordan Ridley, Andrew McGrath, Kyle Langford, Brayden Ham, Jayden Laverde, Will Snelling and Andrew Phillips, who have inked new deals in the off-season.
This news is brought to you by Orchard HRO, the club's official recruitment and list management partner.