Jake Jennings (in grey) with Bendigo Pioneers James Schischka. Photo: Andrew Perryman.

The Bendigo Pioneers will have a new face in their ranks and he won’t be taking the field in the traditional sense.

Exercise science masters graduate Jake Jennings will soon embark on at least three years with the team to develop a training framework and improve player performance.

“Embedding myself in the club for three full seasons of football will give me the data I need to evaluate the strengths of their current program and suggest changes,” Mr Jennings said.

Moving from Brisbane, Mr Jennings will be La Trobe University’s first industry PhD student in Bendigo.

Students have previously hailed from only Melbourne and Mildura.

PhD supervisor Michael Kingsley said La Trobe is well-placed to embrace this industry PhD.

“We host the Pioneers’ administrative and coaching staff in Bendigo and partner with them to give our exercise science and exercise physiology students valuable industry experience as they study,” he said.

The aim of Mr Jennings’ three-year stint is to create a holistic program for players that will balance the drive for performance with player wellbeing.

The Pioneers talent manager Stephen Sharp said the club was excited about Mr Jennings’ new role.

“This level of rigorous attention, over a long period of time, paid to our players and their training regime should yield some interesting results,” Mr Sharp said.

The Bendigo Pioneers compete in the NAB League, Australia’s premiere under-18 Australian rules competition.

The Pioneers beat the Northern Knights by 37 points in their round 15 match at Preston City Oval last Saturday and play the Greater Western Victoria Rebels on Sunday.

After 13 games, the Pioneers are 10th on the ladder with five wins and eight losses this season.

NICHOLAS NAKOS