Craig Bird is in unfamiliar AFL territory in more ways than one after switching from Sydney to Essendon.
At the Swans, Bird was one of many players to have tasted premiership success as part of an experienced, disciplined football program that demands the highest standards.
At the Bombers, the New South Welshman is the only premiership player on a young list at a club embarking on a rebuilding program under new coach John Worsfold.
But if he’s daunted by the prospect of starting over, the 26-year-old doesn’t show it.
“It’s a bit of a different challenge but it’s exciting at the same time,” Bird says.
“I’m looking forward to seeing these kids develop and some of the older guys having some success.
“At Sydney I wasn’t really one of the veterans, but coming down here I’m probably one of the more experienced players. I think I’m going to help out some of the younger guys and help push them along.
“At Sydney we had a pretty good culture and the leaders really drove high standards so I think I can help out with that sort of stuff and make sure the whole team’s onboard to really push those elite standards.”
Switching from a successful club where you’ve played 137 games and won a premiership to one that is trying to drag itself out of the doldrums might seem a curious choice to some but Bird has no doubt that the time had come to make a change.
“I loved my time in Sydney and we had great success there but I think Essendon were a bit more keen to get me down here than what Sydney were to keep me,” he says.
“So I was pretty excited by that and I’m looking forward to working under Woosha.”