Essendon recruits top local players for 2018 VFL season

Jake McQueen

Jake McQueen

Youngster Jake McQueen has been granted a lifeline in the Victorian Football League after being included in Essendon’s squad for its 2018 campaign.

The East Point-listed footballer played 11 games for North Ballarat in 2017, but was left without a club after the Roosters’ VFL license was not renewed at the end of the season.

McQueen said when he was invited to do pre-season training with Essendon he was unsure of what to expect.

“There was a lot of good talent down there and I couldn’t tell you how many blokes there were at the start of training,” he said. 

“I didn’t really expect to get a contract at all.”

The former Nhill player was told on Monday last week that he was going to be offered a place in the squad and had signed the contract by Wednesday.

The 19-year-old was one of 24 players to be included in the playing group when it was announced on Saturday.

A number of other players on the list hail from the Ballarat region.

Former Buninyong tall Joel Ottavi, who now calls East Point home, has kept his place at the club, while ex-Roosters player Sam Hooper is also part of the group. Nick Hind, from East Point, is another to maintain his position at Windy Hill.

Hind has been named as a deputy vice-captain alongside teammate Danny Younan, while Hooper is part of the leadership group.

Hepburn premiership player Jacob Brown, who was named best on ground in the 2017 Central Highlands league grand final, wasn’t included in the 24, but has been offered a place in the Essendon development train-on group.

Carngham-Linton product Nick O’Brien was captain of the Bombers’ VFL team throughout last season, but he has decided to play with Strathmore in 2018.

That has left Heath Hocking to take over as the Essendon skipper.

Essendon will open its VFL season against Frankston on Saturday, April 7.