BRENT Moloney is looking to pack a pre-season punch as he steps up his quest to find a new AFL home.
The South Warrnambool export, driven by a burning desire to play finals footy, is the first player to explore free agency opportunities.
The Melbourne midfielder last week told Demons coach Mark Neeld he wanted to make a fresh start at a rival club. Despite already attracting interest, he is not taking any chances, committing to an early start to pre-season training in a bid to make sure his name is on many teams’ recruiting wish-lists.
Back in Warrnambool with girlfriend Stef to visit family and friends, Moloney was yesterday sweating it out in an intense boxing session with his long-time mate, personal trainer Rod Ryan. In an exclusive interview, Moloney told The Standard he had wrestled for months with his decision to leave the club he grew up barracking for after eight years, but believed a new home was paramount to extending his career.
“It’s time to move on and start afresh,” he said.
“I need a new challenge.”
Moloney, the Demons’ best-and-fairest winner in 2011 and a former vice-captain, said his pitch to prospective clubs was that he felt he had at least three more years to play as a hard-nosed midfielder at the elite level and could help top up a side’s list.
“The last three years I’ve been injury free. My body is really good,” he said.
“I say I have three to four years and anything after that is a bonus. I’m an experienced inside midfielder and I have a lot of leadership to give. I’ve been in leadership groups for the past four or five years. I have a lot more to bring to a footy club and not just footy.”
He said his decision to continue training without much of a break was motivated by his desire to impress.
“You never know when I’m going to meet a club, so I have got to be in good shape,” he said.
He said he couldn’t see himself being part of Melbourne’s medium term plan to climb the ladder, with the Demons looking for younger players.
“I’ve played 10 years and two finals games,” he said.
“I’m a professional footballer.
“When you look back at your career I want to say I’ve given it my best shot and I gave it my best shot playing in finals and hopefully a grand final.”
He said he was open to all offers. While remaining in Victoria is his preference, he wouldn’t rule out a move interstate.
Moloney moved to Melbourne in 2004 after starting his career with Geelong.
He will farewell the Demons after attending the club’s best-and-fairest dinner tomorrow.
“It’s nothing against the club or the players. I’m still mates with all the boys. I’ve got nothing to hide,” he said.
Moloney said he had been honest with the club and wanted to leave on good terms.
The 27-year-old was back where his career began last night, training with South Warrnambool’s under 18 side as it prepared for Saturday’s preliminary final.
“I always love coming home and helping where I can,” Moloney said.