Bombers sign ex-Docker ruck

Sunday Tasmanian - - Sport - KATE SALEMME SAM ED­MUND

ESSENDON has of­fi­cially signed ex-Fre­man­tle ruck­man Zac Clarke.

Clarke has signed a oneyear deal with the Bombers un­der the AFL’s new pre-sea­son sup­ple­men­tal pe­riod that al­lows clubs to sign play­ers who have pre­vi­ously nom­i­nated for the na­tional draft or been on an AFL list as rook­ies.

The for­mer Docker, who was delisted at the end of 2017 af­ter 101 games in nine sea­sons, will add much-needed ruck depth be­hind Tom Bellcham­bers at Essendon fol­low­ing the re­tire­ment of Matthew Leuen­berger.

“I’m re­ally grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity to play with a club like Essendon and thank them for their be­lief in me as a player,” Clarke said.

“I grew up in Mel­bourne, so it’s great to be mov­ing back home af­ter 10 years away.

“I’m keen to hit the ground run­ning over the pre-sea­son and want to pre­pare as best as I can and learn the Bombers’ ex­cit­ing game style as much as pos­si­ble from the play­ing group and coaches.”

Clarke played for WAFL club Su­bi­aco this year and had an im­pres­sive sea­son, av­er­ag­ing 39 hit-outs, 15.7 dis­pos­als and a goal a game.

He also played a star­ring role in Su­bi­aco’s grand-fi­nal vic­tory with 50 hit-outs, 17 dis­pos­als, seven marks and a goal. NATHAN Buck­ley has made a tem­po­rary re­turn from an Ital­ian hol­i­day and his play­ers have been told there will be “nowhere to hide” over pre­sea­son.

Buck­ley has flown back to Mel­bourne mid­way through a three-month break and has popped in and out of the club ahead of to­mor­row’s of­fi­cial start to pre-sea­son train­ing.

Pies fit­ness staff have taken charge of train­ing since the club’s one-to-four year play­ers re­turned on Novem­ber 19 and se­nior play­ers in­clud­ing skip­per Scott Pendle­bury, Lyn­den Dunn and Chris Mayne made early starts to their 2019 prepa­ra­tion.

Af­ter tak­ing his side to within five points of a premier­ship, Buck­ley jet­ted to Europe, where he spent time with English Premier League gi­ants Chelsea and caught up with club staff also overseas for a con­fer­ence, be­fore putting the feet up in Italy.

Buck­ley will fly back to Italy once Colling­wood takes its three-week Christ­mas break from De­cem­ber 18.

Tech­ni­cally, the coach won’t miss an of­fi­cial train­ing ses­sion, but the lengthy Ital­ian va­ca­tion is the lat­est show­ing of his new-found pow­ers of del­e­ga­tion — seen by many as a ma­jor fac­tor in the Pies’ stun­ning resur­gence.

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