David Mirra: Natural Born Leader

At age twenty-one and after only two seasons on the list, David Mirra joined Box Hill’s leadership group.

Twenty-four months later he was captain in his own right and only weeks ago he was voted to the post by his teammates for a fourth season.

It’s an honour not lost on the 26-year-old.

“One of my proudest achievements in life is knowing that some of my closest mates and teammates chose me to lead them and our club.”

When observing Mirra it’s clear that he doesn’t play or train the way he does because he’s captain; he’s captain because of the way he plays and trains.

It’s the standards that he holds himself to that mark him as a leader amongst his peers.

“All I expect from myself is to display the behaviours that we as a group decided upon to the best of my ability,” Mirra says.

“If I perform these actions then I am a leader, no matter if I have the title or not. I don’t need to do any more than this.

“I try to adhere to our set trademark. My actions are in line with what we set as a group.”

This attitude and actions based approach, along with his prior experience in the leadership group, is what encouraged him to take on the captaincy at such a young age, confident in his ability to do the job.

A 2013 premiership player, four time VFL Team of the Year representative – he was named captain of that team in 2015 – and reigning club best and fairest, the Hawks skipper has fast become the elder statesman of a Box Hill outfit keen to atone for a disappointing 2016.

Working closely alongside first-year senior coach Chris Newman, his expectations for 2017 require little in the way of interrogation.

“To make finals.”

To that end, Mirra was full of praise for Newman’s first months in the role.

“It’s been a seamless transition between him and Marco (Bello). ‘Newy’ has come in with some fresh ideas of his own and has been really easy to work with because he’s open and willing to learn.

“His ability to build a rapport with the playing group has been fantastic and you understand why he was the captain of an AFL club.”

The season couldn’t have started much better for Mirra, Newman or the Hawks, with a stirring two-point win away to reigning premier Footscray just the tonic for a demanding and long pre-season. Unsurprisingly, the skipper was a standout.

Whilst satisfied to get the win, one feels that Mirra views last weekend’s result as what it is: one match in isolation. Last week it was Footscray, this week it is Coburg. Irrespective of the opponent, the captain and his Hawks must be prepared for the variable and unique threat posed by each and every opposition.

Mirra plays with an instinct and honesty that is a key to his consistency. He is focused and deliberate both on and off field, with his philosophy on what wins matches no surprise to anyone who has ever seen him play.

“Win the contested ball; be clean and sharp with our hands.”

Though he admits to a few butterflies prior to last week’s season opener, he is otherwise rarely nervous before games and likes to keep the mood in the rooms light before the warm-up.

But from that moment its time to switch on.

“(My role is) to be observant, identify moments such as momentum swings, structural changes and things working well or not so well. Being able to feed this back to coaching staff and players.”

Having signed on for 2017, Mirra is as pragmatic as ever when asked about his future beyond this season, knowing that circumstances change quickly.

“I’d love to play at Box Hill for as long as I can. It’s always been a decision I make at the end of the year weighing up a number of factors.

“Right now it’s (a decision on his future) not a priority at all.”

It’s an attitude the fits the footballer who lives the game contest-to-contest perfectly. Whilst individual accolades are a nice personal reward, Mirra places a greater emphasis on team success and being good teammate.

“I want to be remembered as someone who people loved to play with. This drives me to perform and lead to the best ability that I can.”

Anything else?

“Don’t get me wrong, I’d also like to be known as a 2 time or 3 time premiership player, that’d be nice!”

With many more seasons in the brown and gold ahead of him, plenty of teammates – both new and old – will have the honour of playing alongside Box Hill’s number one in the pursuit of premiership glory.   

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