North Melbourne has added former Melbourne rehabilitation and academy manager Daniel Cross to its high-performance staff ahead of the 2022 season.

A former player with the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne, Cross played 249 games of senior football and was the recipient of the Bulldogs’ 2008 best and fairest.

After his playing retirement at the culmination of the 2015 season, he helped co-found the David Neitz Academy, while also becoming a rehabilitation and conditioning assistant at the Demons, moving on to become the club’s rehabilitation manager in 2017.

Cross says he can bring a different perspective to the club’s rehabilitation and recovery practices.

“I certainly have an advantage in terms of being able to relate to players who might be going through injury rehabilitation, certainly from an empathetic and psychological standpoint,” Cross told North Media.

“That experience I can take from my time as a player, as well as my five years at Melbourne, really holds me in good stead coming into this role at North Melbourne.

“I have an idea of how players might be thinking or feeling going through an injury, because I had a fair share during my career.

“I might be able to give that one per cent more of insight, just talking to the guys and looking at the different elements of how to get them back in the best shape possible. I see that as an advantage.”

While there are a large number of former players still involved in the industry that is AFL footbal, most tread their path down the coaching or media sides of the game.

Cross, however, realised from an early stage that he would be more suited to the high-performance pathway.

He says experiences from his playing career helped foster his passion for sports science.

“There aren’t many players that come out of playing and go into the high-performance area. I studied in the area, got a uni degree and I’ve always loved that side of sport,” he said.

“The way I was able to forge my early career was through my athletic ability and maximising the physical attributes I was born with. I wasn’t blessed with a huge amount of speed, so there were other ways I had to maximise what I had.

“I’ve always been really interested in the field, not to say I don’t enjoy the tactical side of it, but I’ve always had more of a passion for the high-performance side.

“I’ve already had some really good discussions with Kev (Head of Performance, Kevin White), ‘Nobes’ and Brady (Rawlings). I think we’ve got an exciting group of players here and I really can’t wait to get going.”