By Beth Newman
When Palm Beach snagged Wodonga’s Todd Bryant, they knew he was a handy player.
The Rd 13 Syd Guildford Trophy nominee was captain of the Raiders last season and finished fourth in the Ovens and Murray League best and fairest in a side that won only three matches for the year
What they didn’t realise was the impact he would have off the field, with Bryant a member of the leadership group before preseason’s end.
Palm Beach midfield coach, Mark Hay, said Bryant immediately became an invaluable member of the Lions fold.
“We wouldn’t have expected him to gel so quickly and be an instant leader amongst the group that’s been a bonus,” he said.
“He looks after the younger players at training and he takes control in the midfield, along with our captain (Jesse Derrick)
“He’s never negative, he’s a very positive person.”
His nomination comes after a best on ground performance against Labrador, but Hay said the match was simply a continuation of what Bryant shows every week.
“He just does it week in and week out,” he said.
“The way he goes about it in all facets 9is what stands out), he can get 20 touches but it’s the way he involves the team, the way he leads.
“He drags other players into the game.”
Bryant has brought a touch of his country footy background to the QAFL, hard at the ball and turning into one of the side’s best inside midfielders, Hay said.
“Along with our captain, he’s basically the first picked every week and he hasn’t given us a bad game,” he said.
“He doesn’t seem to run out of steam, he takes the bumps and he’s just a hard player.
“That in itself is a strong leadership quality because that’s exactly how we want our players to play.”
Bryant almost didn’t make it to Queensland, originally planning on heading to the WAFL actually playing some practice matches in the west, but the 22 year-old said he’ glad he answered the persistent calls of Daryn Cresswell.
“Originally, I finished my uni degree and moved to Perth to play in the WAFL, but Daryn was pretty persistent calling me a couple of times,” he said.
“Eventually I caved and I just loved the footy club and the environment, it was a no-brainer.”
With the departure of Duncanson Todd Medallist, Zane Murphy, last year, Bryant filled a void in the Lions’ midfield, and says he has tried to bring his strength in contested football to his new club.
“I‘ve always played my footy in tight and in close and I’m obviously not the biggest in my stature, so I’ve got to win it,” he said.
“That’s sort of been an area within the team that it’s been easy to slip into because there’s been a bit of availability for the role.”
Playing in 23 degrees and sunshine through Queensland’s winter has made it that much easier for Bryant, who is looking for a job in the fisheries industry after completing a Bachelor of Science last year.
“I love it up here can’t see myself going home,” he said.
“I really love the club, the boys have been really good to me.”