Brand’s confidence boost has Essendon NGA eyeing off dream

A CONFIDENCE booster playing school football last year helped Calder Cannons key defender, Cody Brand bring the same level of football back to the NAB League. Rejoining the Cannons after his school commitments were finished, the tall who measured in at 195cm 12 months ago was excited about what the year could bring ahead of the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The Essendon Next Generation Academy (NGA) member started the year a “bit shaky” by his own admission, but his form increased as he got more match fitness under his belt throughout the year. Throw in another 12 months of development and working close with former Essendon player, Heath Hocking at the Academy, and Brand was primed for a big season. Whilst the COVID-19 outbreak has put he and the rest of the competition’s season on ice for the time being, Brand was confident of making an impact when his time came.

“(My bottom-age year) probably started off a bit shaky,” Brand said. “Got to school footy, grew a bit of confidence from there, sort of took that back to NAB League and just showed what I could do I suppose. “(I) worked closely with Heath Hocking. “We’re pretty close with our strength and craft so sort of add another aspect to my game and he’s helped me well this past season.”

Calder Cannons Talent Manager Tom Lonergan told Draft Central in our season preview that Brand was likely to hold down a key defensive post like he had in his bottom-age year, something Brand said he was happy to do, like any other role for his side.

“Yeah obviously played back the whole of last year so look if I’m playing back this year that would be great,” he said. “(I’m) ready for whatever opportunity throws itself at me.”

While last year the Cannons had an abundance of talls, both Lonergan and Brand cited a much smaller playing group, and with the lack of height, came another strength for the team.

“I think we’re going to be a bit of a different team to what we had last year. Just due to height circumstances,” Brand said. “But I think we’re going to be really dangerous with our speed and our ability to cover the ground as well. “We’ve had a big preseason, but I think some of the younger sort of kids, the values they’ve brought to the group, the Josh Goaters, Jack Newitts, and their impact on us preseason has just been to drive us to get better so it’s just been good things.”

Being a member of the Vic Metro hub, Brand is excited to learn off players from other clubs when the AFL Under-18 National Championships roll around. He said in particular he had struck up a friendship with Oakleigh Chargers’ Reef McInnes, and was looking forward to playing alongside both him and fellow Charger, Will Phillips.

The question about his desire to head to Tullamarine and don the sash was posed, with Brand saying any opportunity – by any club – would be a dream, and he would take it with open arms. He knew he would just have to “keep ticking boxes see if we get there”.

“Look just to be given the opportunity would be fantastic,” Brand said. “It’s what every player dreams of, if it falls down that pathway, then that’s the pathway I take, but honestly I’m not fazed one bit.”

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