MELBOURNE utility James Harmes has signed a new deal with the club, keeping him in the red and blue until at least the end of 2024.
Harmes, who was initially contracted until the end of next season, put pen to paper on a further four years on Wednesday morning.
The 24-year-old said he was thrilled to be staying with the club he grew up barracking for.
“It took a little while, but we got there in the end – both parties are happy,” Harmes told Melbourne Media.
“I’ve got a lot of faith in Goody (Simon Goodwin) and my teammates around me, so it was a pretty easy decision for me.
“I grew up a Melbourne supporter too, so to sign a long-term deal – I’m just really excited and can’t wait to get stuck into the year.”
Harmes has played 91 games since making his debut in 2015, including every match across the past two seasons (25 games in 2018 and 22 games in 2019).
But on the back of a year where he averaged 24 disposals and finished fourth in the club’s Best and Fairest, the versatile hard nut is only looking to develop further in 2020.
“I’ll probably try and lead the boys a bit more [next year],” Harmes said.
“I’m 24, so it’s time to start bringing some of the young guys along with me.
“I’m not too sure where I’ll play – I might play a bit of half back, a bit of midfield. [I just want] to keep improving and enjoying my footy.”
General manager of football operations Josh Mahoney said the club was delighted with Harmes’ commitment, with his continued growth an exciting prospect.
“We’re really pleased that James has agreed to a new extension with the club,” he told Melbourne Media.
“We’ve seen significant development from him, particularly over the past two seasons, which is an example of his hard work ethic.
“James has become an integral part of the team and gives us great versatility in the number of roles he can play.
“We’re looking forward to him building on this in the years to come.”
While the 2019 season was a disappointing one for the Demons, the focus has swiftly shifted to 2020, and the hard work required to return to form.
And with the start of pre-season just around the corner, Harmes and his teammates are eager to prove themselves.
“It’s been a bit of a different [off-season] for us. Darren Burgess (Performance Manager) has come in, so the program has changed a little bit,” Harmes said.
“The running has been awesome – all the boys have been getting together and doing a lot of the sessions together.
“We’ve just attacked it as hard as we can, and we just want to come back in the best nick [possible].
“It was obviously a tough year this year, but I think with a big summer from the boys, we will bounce back and be a really strong club for the next few years.”
Originally from Devon Meadows/Dandenong Stingrays, Harmes was taken by Melbourne at No.2 in the 2014 NAB AFL Rookie Draft.