CHRISTMAS has come early for Port Adelaide footballer Jake Neade, with the dynamo forward signing a two-year contract extension that will keep him with the Power until the end of the 2016 season.
The North Ballarat Rebels draftee debuted for the Power in round one this year and played 16 games in a season that saw him earn selection for the Indigenous Australian Rules squad as well as a nomination for the NAB AFL Rising Star award.
The 19-year-old is happy that the contract talks, which had been going on since the middle of the season, are over and he is able to turn his full attention to building up his fitness for the 2014 season.
Neade, from Elliott in the Northern Territory, was pre-listed by Greater Western Sydney before the 2012 draft and then traded to Port Adelaide for pick 28.
“We’d been in contract talks since mid year and I just told my manager that it would be nice to get something like that out of the way so I can focus solely on my footy for a while,” Neade told The Courier.
“I feel pretty excited about where the club is heading and I want to be a part of what we might accomplish over the next few years.
“I’ve got a lot of things to improve on but I feel like I played my role well this year.
“I’m just disappointed that my body couldn’t keep up with the game at the end.”
Neade played just one game over the last six home and away rounds this year, with his 170-centimetre, 67-kilogram frame eventually succumbing to the demands of senior football before the Ken Hinkley-led Power made the finals for the first time in several years.
The former St Patrick’s College student has since enjoyed a stellar pre-season, stacking more than two kilograms onto his frame through a nine-day heat-intensive training program in Dubai at the start of December.
“Both Kenny (Hinkley) and myself were really pleased with the role I played this year, but we were both disappointed that my body couldn’t hold up for finals,” Neade said.
“There’s been a huge lift in what my training program involves compared to the last pre-season, so hopefully I will be able to finish off next season a bit stronger.”