A settled and trimmed-down Jesse Hogan is ready to help launch Melbourne into the Simon Goodwin era.
Hogan ended speculation he would seek a return home to Western Australia at the end of the season when he signed a two-year contract extension last year.
After taking over from Paul Roos, Goodwin will take the reins for the first time as the Demons’ senior coach when they take on the Western Bulldogs on Saturday.
The rookie coach spoke to reporters on Thursday and gave a glowing response when asked about the 22-year-old key forward’s preparation.
“I think Jess is now a really settled person, he’s established here at the footy club and he’s got some great work habits,” Goodwin said.
“He’s really driving his career forward. Having him signed up now is terrific … I think it gives him some clear air to really focus on what the team requires to be successful.”
Melbourne finished 11th last year and are widely tipped to play finals for the first time since 2006 in Goodwin’s first season in charge.
Hogan, the club’s leading goal kicker for the past two seasons, has slimmed down this pre-season and will play a key role if the Demons are to break their finals drought.
While Hogan’s impressive preparation gives Goodwin more options, fans can expect him to continue to anchor the forward line.
“We’ll experiment with Jess in a number of different positions but primarily he’s a forward,” Goodwin said.
“He’s on our list to play as a key forward and to really be instrumental in our forward half.
“But what Jess has been able to do is put his body shape in a great position to really launch into his season.”
Hogan will be joined by new faces Jordan Lewis and Jake Melksham when the Demons take on the Dogs at Whitten Oval.
Dom Tyson, Ben Kennedy, Michael Hibberd and Dean Kent are among the notable absentees, but all are expected to be available to play in round one of the home-and-away season.