C'mon... who saw that coming? Pleased to have you on board Ben.
Essendon Football Club has finalised its list ahead of the 2017 season with the signing of Ben McNiece as the Bombers’ inaugural Next Generation Academy player.
The 178cm defender was eligible as a Category B Rookie for the position on the Club’s list as his mother was born in India.
McNiece said he was honoured to be given the chance to play senior football.
“I’m extremely grateful for the chance to be part of an elite football environment and to work under senior coach, John Worsfold,” McNiece said.
“This is such a wonderful opportunity for me to realise my dream of playing senior football, and to be able to do what I love on a full time basis is a huge honour.
“I’m looking forward to putting in the hard work and hopefully that gives me every chance to play at the elite level next season.”
The 24 year-old has been a member of the Club’s VFL outfit for the past two seasons and finally gets his chance to impress at senior level.
List and Recruiting Manager, Adrian Dodoro, said McNiece boasted a strong defensive and offensive mindset.
“We are really pleased to have finalised our list for the 2017 season, and Ben’s addition provides us with another small defensive option,” Dodoro said.
“Ben has an elite left kick, and he has a super competitive nature which allows him to win a lot of contested possessions.
“He has shown he is capable of shutting down some of the state league’s best small forwards and will continue to play an important role for us this season.”
McNiece had an impressive 2016 season with the VFL, finishing third in the Best and Fairest.
VFL Coach, Paul Corrigan, said McNiece also displays outstanding leadership qualities.
“Ben has excellent leg speed and fantastic kicking skills and provides plenty of rebound,” Corrigan said.
“We have been really impressed with his determination and hard work since he joined us in 2015.
“His leadership has also been outstanding, and was named Vice-Captain to skipper Daniel Coghlan in 2016.”
The finalised Bombers’ playing list for 2017 includes; 40 primary listed players, four rookies and one Category B player at a total of 45 players.