Goddard is newbie in name only
New beginning: Club chief executive Ian Robson shows Essendon's recruits the new training centre at Tullamarine. Photo: Eddie Jim
ESSENDON'S recruitment of Brendon Goddard was a huge bonus for its midfield. But it's also providing a significant boost to leadership stocks that have hardly threatened to burst at the seams these past few years.
Goddard, who on Monday was taken on a tour of the club's new training site at Tullamarine along with half-a-dozen other pick-ups from the national draft, says after a month with his new club, he is still feeling his way.
Others, including chief executive Ian Robson, aren't so sure.
"I was lucky enough to be with the group in Colorado [at the training camp], which was Brendon's first week, and the thought came to me after the first day that it would be fascinating to get a neutral observer to watch the group and work out who was the newbie," Robson said.
"The way he seamlessly slipped into the group; obviously the fact he knew guys like Brent Stanton and Jobe [Watson] helped, but he's been fantastic from day one, a real contributor."
Goddard is more than aware of Essendon's need for him to fill the breach on a couple of counts. He's looking forward to spending a lot more time in the midfield in 2013, but also to exert an even greater influence over this bunch of players than he did with the last.
The reason is simple.
"They're younger and [more] inexperienced, whereas at St Kilda they had the luxury of having a large core group of players who were really experienced," said Goddard at his first media conference in his new colours.
"Hanging around with the boys, you actually realise how young they are as players, and men as well.
"Looking through the profiles and list, [you see] how inexperienced they are. There's a lot of scope and obviously a lot of talent within the group, and there's a lot of [room] for growth.
"There are some great leaders already, or potential leaders, as well at Essendon. You've got Jobe as the obvious standout, but you've got guys coming up like Jake Melksham and Dyson Heppell and David Zaharakis, guys that can take their leadership to a new level."
Goddard again alluded to some issues about his move as a free agent which went beyond money, and again wasn't keen to elaborate, but quickly stamped on any suggestion of a problem with St Kilda coach Scott Watters, who had previously claimed the move was all about money.
He was even quicker to scoff that there could have been a problem with old teammates.
"Scott and I, I thought we had a pretty good relationship, so I don't have a bad word to say about Scotty," he said.
"Any suggestion it had anything to do with my teammates is incorrect. The hardest thing I had to do was walk away from my teammates. The things you share with your teammates and go through; you go through more emotional roller-coasters with your teammates than you do with any other people in your life, other than really close family and your partner.
"There's obviously two sides to the story. I'm not going to go into detail or comment on what they want to say or how they go about it, but there were obviously reasons behind the move, and they're entitled to their opinions and thoughts."
Goddard conceded his contract negotiations with St Kilda "didn't go as smoothly as I wanted", and that the added security of a fourth year offered to him by Essendon had been important. But so too is the chance to play more of a role where more of the action is – in midfield.
"I think I've made it pretty clear one of the benefits was a permanent spot in the midfield," he said. "Last year I played 90 per cent of my footy as a half-forward.
"So that was something that appealed to me a lot – to be played as a permanent midfielder and to try to get the best out of myself in a footy sense, and that the footy club can offer a lot for me personally as well."