Essendon have appointed Richmond premiership player Alex Rance as their development coach in an enormous coup for the Bombers.
The five-time All-Australian played in a VFL match with the club in Queensland as a favour to Bombers coach Ben Rutten this season and has now decided to return to Essendon in a part-time capacity.
Rance, who was his era’s best defender, retired from the game in 2019 just before he turned 30 after playing in one flag with the Tigers, where he was coached by Rutten and assistant coach Blake Caracella.
His retirement was premature but he wanted to devote time to his life away from the AFL which includes education of young people in the Alex Rance Academy.
The 32-year-old will work with development coaches Leigh Tudor and Cam Roberts in helping develop the club’s key-position and Jack Jones Academy (first- to fourth-year) players.
“I’m really excited to join the Bombers as a development coach for next season,” Rance said.
“I couldn’t think of a better place to start my journey as a coach in the AFL. Having familiar faces in ‘Truck’ [Ben Rutten] and ‘Cara’ [Blake Caracella] around to work with was really appealing to me.
“I really enjoyed my experience with the VFL Bombers up in Queensland earlier this year, and I loved helping those young players grow and learn, which will be a big part of my role here.