Cloke rejoins Bendigo Bombers

THE Bendigo Bank Bombers have regained the services of former Collingwood defender Jason Cloke.The 27-year-old was runner-up in the Bombers best and fairest in 2007 before spending the past two seasons with VFL rival Williamstown.Cloke’s return coincides with the re-signing of skipper James Flaherty.Bendigo Bombers general manager Peter Lodewijks said that both players would have major roles in the club’s 2010 season.”We’re delighted that James has re-signed because his form in 2008 and 2009 was impressive and he’s developed into one of the best defenders in the VFL,’’ he said.“He’s earned a great deal of respect for his work ethic on and off the ground and for the level of commitment he brings to the club. “We’re a young side which is continuing to develop at VFL level and his skill, together with the experience he has gained, is going to be an important factor in that process."Secondly, it’s fantastic that we’ve been able to get Jason Cloke back to Bendigo because he will bring a lot of experience to the club.“He’s got the skill and football knowledge to fill a number of key positions which is important for a young team.’’Coach Shannon Grant said that re-signing Flaherty had been a high priority because he was a quality player and was well respected by his peers. “I expect that James will continue to hold down a key defender's role because he’s done some really good work on strong opposition forwards during the past two seasons,’’ Grant said.“He’s still developing his skills and, in addition, the experience he’s gained during his three seasons with the club, will assist him to lift his game to another level.“Similarly, Jason Cloke is a quality player with AFL and VFL experience and he’s one who will help to set the standard for our young playing group, while also having a leadership role.’’Flaherty finished runner-up in the club’s 2009 best and fairest award for the second consecutive year and he capped off the season with selection as full-back in the Victorian Football League’s 2009 Team of the Year.Flaherty said he wanted to stay on board to support Grant, the new coach and, secondly, because he was positive the club was heading in the right direction.“I want to play footy at the highest possible level I can and I’m keen to work on my overall skills and physical development, which will be a big asset when I’m opposed to key forward line players,’’ he said.“I’ve been training in Bendigo and also with the Melbourne-based players at Windy Hill and there’s a lot of enthusiasm being shown in both places, because everyone’s keen to move into 2010 on a really positive note.’’

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