Leunberger Ready For Ruck Battle
Matthew Leuenberger says he is up for the battle to take the No.1 ruck position at Essendon, having crossed to the Bombers for more opportunities in the key role.
The former Brisbane Lions big man, who moved to the Bombers as a restricted free agent in October's exchange period, played 14 games for the Lions last season.
The majority of those were as a key forward, with the 27-year-old unable to push Lions ruckman Stefan Martin out of the job.
Leuenberger said he had already had a few training sessions against fellow Essendon ruckman Tom Bellchambers, and the two were ready to contest the starting role.
"I want to come in and fight for the spot. At the moment I've been doing a bit of work against Tommy Bellchambers, who's fit and healthy," Leuenberger said from the Bombers' training session in Healesville on Wednesday.
"I like to have the mentality that him and I are going to battle it out and see what happens from there."
Leuenberger, who was selected with pick No.4 in the 2006 NAB AFL Draft, said the Bombers presented more opportunities for him than staying at the Lions, where Martin recently re-signed for a further three years.
"It was just game opportunity. I couldn't get past Stef up at Brisbane and I was playing as a key forward, and unfortunately I don't really know how to play that position," Leuenberger said.
"I came down here envisaging playing more time in the ruck.
"After having discussions with Brissy about where I wanted to be and how they saw the team going forward [I thought] it might be best to see what else might be out there and Essendon were pretty interested from what I understood.
"I felt it was going to be a good fit and they did too, so here I am."
The Bombers were among a number of clubs interested in securing Leuenberger under the free agency rules, with the Sydney Swans and Fremantle also strongly linked.
He said moving to Melbourne was a good option for his partner and their young family, but that he also believed in the Bombers' list and where it could head.
"I've got optimism about where this group's at. At face value a lot of people write it off, but when you look at the list there's a good balance of age, there's some good up and coming kids and I think things can turn really quick," Leuenberger said.
"That's how I saw it – that things could change quick and I was pretty keen to get into it."
Injuries made for a "frustrating" nine-year career at the Lions for Leuenberger, but he has participated in all training so far the Bombers and is hoping for a healthy run after reaching 20 or more games just three times so far.
"At the moment I'm in full training. I'm not hindered; I'm not monitored. I'm good to go. If we were playing on the weekend I'd be playing," he said.
"That's the one thing I would love to have here – just a good run at it. Your footy gets so much better not only by playing week in week out but training week in week out."
EDIT: I couldn't find an actual thread for Matthew so I thought it was appropriate to move it here.
If a mod can find a dedicated thread, please feel free to relocate.