Already setting the competition alight with his versatile skillset, round 12 NAB AFL Rising Star nominee Nik Cox has praised the Bombers’ environment, saying he "couldn’t be happier" in the first year of his AFL career.
Essendon’s first selection (No.8 overall) in last year’s NAB AFL Draft, Cox made his debut in round one and has played every game since.
The 19-year-old revealed the Bombers kept him guessing in the lead-up to the draft.
“They kept their cards pretty close to their chest, but 'Truck' (senior coach Ben Rutten) rang me about two minutes before I got picked and I was speechless,” Cox said.
“But now, I couldn’t be happier (at Essendon). There’s a great bunch of people there, not only the players, but the coaches, the staff and everyone at the club. I just couldn’t be happier.
“There are times when I just don’t want to leave the club because it’s so enjoyable just being there. And sometimes you don’t want to cop the traffic on the way home, so I’ll just stick around."
Cox praised senior coach Ben Rutten's early influence and the confidence he had instilled in the Northern Knights product.
“From the moment I got to the club, he’s (Rutten) had confidence in me and said there’s no reason why you can’t have an impact immediately,” he said.
“He just told me what I need to do in terms of the way we want to play on the wing, and he said just bring your natural strengths. He’s made me feel really comfortable out there. Truck is doing a great job with everyone. He’s making it a great place to be and a great place to learn.
"It’s definitely an exciting place to be because we a good mix of older and younger guys too – we’re learning so much off some of these older players.”
Cox has played mainly as a wingman this season with stints in the ruck, with the Bombers having seen in his junior football days that he can play anywhere on the ground.
The 202cm product said he was open to moving positions if required.
“I think versatility is one of my strengths and I’d like to keep that and keep building on that," he said.
"In my bottom-age year, I played centre half-back and also centre half-forward, and also at times ruck, so I think eventually I’d like to move into a key-position role. But wherever I need to be which best suits the team, I’m happy to just do that.”