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Spring back in giant's step

BTV: Pre-season | Zac Clarke interview We caught up with new ruckman Zac Clarke after his first day of training at The Hangar.

As summer kicked off on Saturday, so too did life as a Bomber for Zac Clarke.

And while spring may be over, the spring is well and truly back in the 203cm giant’s step.

Delisted by Fremantle at the end of 2017, cruelled by knee injuries and without an AFL club, the 28-year-old’s chances of a comeback appeared all but over at the start of 2018.

What followed, however, was a sensational season for WAFL premiership-winning side Subiaco, with the ruck-forward booting 28 goals and featuring in every game before the Dons came calling.

Reporting for duty at The Hangar on Monday, Essendon’s final off-season recruit said a year out of the AFL had worked wonders for his mind and body.

“I really got back to just enjoying footy on and off the field - that was significant to my on-field performances this year,” Clarke said.

“It’s well-documented I had a few knee issues in the last two or three years (at Fremantle), but this year at Subiaco I had no issues.

“The year off allowed me to rehab my injuries and get myself right. I feel like I’m over them, and I’m ready to get back in the AFL system and play some good footy." 

 

Spending nine seasons at the Dockers from 2009 to 2017, Clarke’s CV reads as follows: 101 total games, 46 goals and seven finals matches, including the 2013 Grand Final.

It’s a handy return from the No.37 pick in 2008’s national draft, but it’s not just on the field where he believes he can make his mark in the red and black.

Commencing a teaching degree and coaching basketball and footy this year, Clarke has a genuine passion for helping young athletes reach their goals.

“In talking to ‘Woosha’ (senior coach John Worsfold) and the other coaches, that’s one of the reasons I’m here – obviously to play good footy and contribute to the footy club, but also to mentor the young guys,” he said. 

“I’ve been through most of it, so I can relate to what they’re going through. (I’ll do) Whatever I can do to help them.” 


Zac Clarke, pictured in the 2013 Grand Final, is no stranger to the big stage. (Photo: AFL Media)

Essendon’s youngsters won’t be the only beneficiaries of Clarke’s move, however. 

Reuniting with his family after a decade on the other side of the country, the Clarke household will have a regular visitor with the born-and-bred Melburnian in tow. 

“It’s surreal after 10 years of being away,” Clarke said.

“It’s really good to have the family 10 to 15 minutes down the road and really give back to them. I haven’t seen them much over extended periods, so I’m excited about that and excited to be here at a Melbourne club.”


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