ESSENDON has secured one of the key bookends for its future, locking young gun Aaron Francis away for the next three seasons.
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Francis established himself as a senior regular this year – playing 17 of his 27 AFL games to date – and his new contract helps ward off persistent suggestions of him returning to South Australia.
The No.6 pick from the 2015 AFL Draft can play at both ends, but has played his best football as a defender.
Aaron Francis became a senior fixture with the Bombers in 2019. Picture: AFL Photos
"I feel I have a tremendous support system around me, from the players to the administration, to assist me in achieving my goals in all aspects of my life," Francis said.
"I am loving my time at the club and I'm fully committed to working hard on my game, so I can increase my impact on the senior side.
"There is an exciting feeling amongst this group and what we can achieve together over the next few seasons, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it."
Meanwhile, the Western Bulldogs also announced the re-signing of a South Australian product, with Bailey Williams re-committing until the end of 2021.
Like Francis, there's been some talk he could be on the move after limited senior opportunities this year, but Williams has ended that speculation with this new two-year deal.
Bailey Williams managed nine senior games for the Dogs this season. Picture: AFL Photos
Bulldogs list and recruiting boss Sam Power said he believed Williams had a "bright future".
"Bailey is a versatile player who has a strong game sense and intercepts the ball well," Power said.
"He's shown across his career that he can play multiple roles, including down back and through the midfield.
"Having now had four years in the AFL system, Bailey will be determined to cement his position in the senior team and help drive us forward in 2020."
Williams played nine AFL games in 2019 to give him a total of 41 in four seasons.