Darren Burgess and Dr Craig Duncan join the cutting-edge British firm to help shake-up the landscape of performance teams across Australian sport

Elite Performance Partners (EPP) – the high performance sports recruitment firm – has appointed Darren Burgess and Dr Craig Duncan to lead the company’s expansion into the Australian market, largely from a desire to welcome two of the excellent leaders based there into our fold.

Burgess joins EPP from Melbourne FC where he served as High Performance Manager. Under his stewardship, the AFL team made a sensational comeback last month to win this season’s AFL Grand Final – ending the league’s longest winning drought of over five decades. He previously worked as Director of High Performance at Arsenal Football Club, Head of Sports Science for Football Federation Australia and Head of Fitness and Conditioning at Liverpool Football Club. Since winning the 2021 AFL title last month with Melbourne, Burgess has joined the Adelaide Crows to oversee their high performance programs for the 2022 season.

Duncan is one of the industry’s leading human performance strategists, having founded Performance Intelligence Agency in 2009, and previously heading up the sports science department at the Federation Football Australia, which saw the Socceroos win the Asian Cup Final in 2015.

At EPP, Burgess will lead the search and selection work throughout the Australasia region and Duncan will run the advisory and leadership development work across the country.

Founded in 2013 by former professional rugby player David Slemen and co-run out of the UK Head Office by Managing Partner Anna Edwards, EPP prides itself on a unique approach to high performance recruitment. Having worked with globally-renowned clients such as City Football Group, FIFA and English Institute of Sport (EIS), EPP goes beyond ‘just candidate placements’ to support, build and grow high performing teams.

(Left to right: Darren Burgess, Craig Duncan)

“Launching in Australia is an exciting move for EPP, and the next logical strategic step for us given the growth of our brand and size and maturity of the market. For too long, globally, sport has been driven by who you know, not what you know. Performance experts have a far greater impact than they’re given credit for, and in bringing in Darren and Craig, we’re adding two of the best performance thinkers in Australia to our wider team. We are adding to our performance thinking in the region to help us grow our performance understanding and reach there, and further afield”, says Slemen.

“EPP sets itself apart by helping clients really understand and prioritise the criteria for new and replacement hires. We use a data-informed evidence-based approach to search and selection worldwide. And we don’t stop there – we actively help develop the staff once they’ve started and throughout their journeys”, says Edwards.

“It’s great to be a part of the EPP family here in Australia. This country has an incredible sports industry, and I can’t wait to show how we can add value to these organisations through smart and evidence-based recruitment. It’s not just the staff we look to help and support, but the departments as a whole”, says Burgess.

The decision for EPP to launch an office in Melbourne comes with the vast opportunities and talent that sit within the country: “Australia pioneered the importance of high performance teams and having these types of managers in the technical area of sport. Having an Australian presence with me and Darren giving our specialist knowledge on the ground means that clubs and organisations can benefit even more from EPP’s innovative and agile approach to recruitment, strategy and development”, explains Duncan.