Echuca Football Club welcomed its newest recruit at the weekend along with the rest of its Melbourne-based players for the 2017 season.
Cory Hargrave travelled to Victoria Park alongside Simon Buckley, Liam Wilkinson, Daniel Willis, Will Monahan and Tim Allan to meet the local players and build relationships with the rest of his teammates.
Ruory Kirkby was in South Australia for the weekend and was unable to attend.
The Murray Bombers were able to get a glimpse of the players who will be leading the on-field charge in 2017 and coach Andrew Briggs hoped the experience of the returning Melbourne players would make them even more influential from the season previous.
‘‘A lot of them have already built those connections during the past 12 months at the club and understand what we expect from them and the structures we have in place,’’ Briggs said.
‘‘Cory is the new kid on the block and he’s already fitting in quite well and has a bond with the other Melbourne players and a few of the local guys.’’
Briggs added the previous players were already embedded in the playing group and bonds would only grow stronger as the season progressed.
Buckley and Allan have lived their entire lives in Melbourne and have already played a season at the club, while Monahan, Wilkinson and Kirkby grew up in Echuca and made the move to the city years earlier.
Briggs said the players will continue to train at local clubs in Melbourne during and ahead of the season, but were expected to play every weekend.
‘‘There will be opportunities for them to train with everyone at our preseason camp and other opportunities for weekend sessions,’’ he said.
‘‘This weekend was about getting players involved in our leadership development program and building relationships which go beyond training and playing together.
‘‘The club has identified who we see as potential leaders either now or in the future to take part in the morning program and then the entire playing group got together before midday to redefine our core values.’’
The club’s former assistant coach Matt Barden ran the program for players and has an extensive background in leadership and development.
While Briggs said those involved in the morning session were not necessarily the leadership group for 2017, the workshop prepared them for the prospective role and provided skills which players could use outside of football.
The key values the Murray Bombers would be taking into next season included being respectful, being relentless and being united, both on and off the field.
‘‘It’s three simple things we’ve identified and will try and showcase throughout the entire team,’’ Briggs said.
Shane McCurry will also be around the club as a mentor for Briggs and has a wealth of experience in developing leadership and performance in his involvement with North Melbourne and as head of leadership and culture at West Sydney Tigers in the NRL.
‘‘We’re all on the same page and all our values are aligned with how we want to behave as a group,’’ Briggs said.
‘‘It’s important now we just continue to put in the groundwork.’’