SWAN Districts Football Club midfielder and colts coach Xavier Ellis has regained the confidence to play out a football match after his AFL career ended prematurely due to soft tissue injuries.
The Hawthorn 2008 premiership player and former West Coast utility retired last August after four years of leg problems towards the end of his 120-game career.
Ellis (28) was drafted at pick 3 in the 2005 AFL Draft by Hawthorn, where he played 86 games before he moved to West Coast in 2013 and played 34 games.
In December, Ellis signed with Swan Districts as the colts coach, senior defence coach and as a senior player.
Ellis said his priority was to develop the club’s under-18s and playing senior football was secondary.
“Ideally, I would love to have stayed playing AFL this year…I threw up the idea of going back to Melbourne but glad I stayed in Perth,” he said.
“While the seniors were running around, I just jogged around a little bit; I have not done a lot of football to be honest.
“I am still overweight but I feel as though the condition I am in is probably good enough to play.”
Ellis was confident Swan Districts would improve on a disappointing 2016 season.
“I will be there for the start of the season and I feel as though I am capable now to get through a game, no dramas,” he said.
“Obviously we have recruited some senior experience from AFL, whenever those players turn up at a state league club, it probably helps.
“But on top of that, I am sure that there are younger guys who played a lot last year and probably have played for two or three years now and are in their primes to have good seasons.”
Looking back on his AFL career, Ellis said he felt he let his team down when he was injured during games.
As for the highs of his playing days, Ellis named his premiership medal and his debut games as a Hawk and an Eagle as highlights.
“I always look back with a bit of with a bit of joy to say that I have played seasons with Buddy Franklin, Jarryd Roughead and Josh Kennedy who have won Coleman Medals, (and) Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell (who) both won Brownlow Medals,” he said.
“I suppose low lights… I wanted one or two more (premierships) but you cannot really say you are unlucky because people are in much worse positions than I have been.”
Ellis, who works for the Simon Black Academy at Murdoch University, said he wanted to extend his coaching career.
“I would love to coach back in the AFL but I sort of do feel that times are changing a little bit more towards the American system where you have to do your apprenticeship,” he said.
“Players who walk into AFL clubs generally have had really successful careers which do not particularly mean they are good coaches.
“I am more than happy with coaching at state league for years to come.
“I will just tick along in Perth for a little bit longer and I am really enjoying doing what I am doing now.”