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Board’s new boys head down media street

Newly appointed AFL Players’ directors Chris Dawes and Leigh Montagna have been busy doing the media rounds after being voted onto the PA board at the AFL Players’ Season Launch on Tuesday night.

Speaking to Triple M’s Hot Breakfast on Wednesday morning, Montagna described his appointment as “an honour”.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while and the opportunity came up, with a couple of players stepping down – Luke Ball and Dan Jackson, so I took it up and am looking forward to it,” the St Kilda veteran said.

“It’s exciting – the CBA negotiations are coming up, so there’ll be plenty of issues and I look forward to being part of it.”

Click here to watch a message from new Players’ Association President Matthew Pavlich

Dawes echoed the sentiment shared by Montagna on 1116 SEN’s Morning Glory.

“On one hand I think it’s going to be really good for my development to be part of a really important board,” the 26-year-old Melbourne key forward said.

“And then on the other hand, I think I have also got a responsibility. A lot of the issues that go on, I understand I am passionate about.

“I think people with that understanding and passion for issues in our game ought to be the ones representing our players and I am more than happy to do that.”

Speaking about the Players’ Association’s main priorities for the near future, both Montagna and Dawes outlined the PA’s goal to “make sure that we’re genuine partners in the game.”

“It’s been a bit of a catchcry and you’ll see it as we prepare for this next CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement),” Dawes said.

“We want to continue to be genuine partners in the game.

“Rather than it just be the AFL deciding who gets what, (we want to ensure) the AFL Players’ Association is a respected body and that we are part of that conversation.

“One of the things we are really focused on is continuing to deliver first-class sporting workplaces.”

Dawes also touted work-life balance as being one of the key issues affecting players.

“It doesn’t mean we’re saying we need more holidays – we’re saying we just don’t want it to be underestimated how much of a toll the modern game takes on a player, both physically and emotionally.”

Free Agency will continue to be a key issue for AFL players – Montagna says it’s “here to stay.”

“We need to look at what it’s going to look like in five, ten, twenty years.

“I think it’s fair that players have some sort of say as to where they go… It’ll be interesting to see how it all pans out in the next 12 months.”

Montagna and Dawes are looking forward to becoming more heavily involved in discussions and negotiations about the game’s biggest issues, as part of a board that grows in importance as each year goes by.

Speaking at Tuesday night’s AFL Players’ Season Launch, departing PA President Luke Ball said, “to have a vote – for the second year in a row – for guys who want to be involved at board level, that speaks volumes.”

More than 100 players cast their votes to elect Montagna and Dawes to the board, along with Pavlich and North Melbourne veteran Drew Petrie, who – as the two longest-serving members on the PA board – were put up for re-election.

Brisbane Lions skipper and Players’ Association delegate Tom Rockliff and Richmond delegate Tyrone Vickery were the two players unlucky to miss out, but were thanked by AFL Players’ CEO Paul Marsh for their interest.

You can hear Chris Dawes speaking to 1116 SEN’s Morning Glory program in full, below.