Former North Melbourne defender Declan Watson will return home to Aspley next season following three years on the Roos' list.
The Hornets junior and former Lions Academy member was quick to make the decision to relocate back to Queensland after being delisted in August.
“I want to study so it would have been pretty hard to do that and play footy without the support of my family and living back home,” he told neafl.com.au.
“The most obvious option for me was to come back to Brisbane, live at home again and play for Aspley. If I was going to play State League footy anywhere outside the VFL, it would be for Aspley being my junior club.”
Watson had played for Aspley since under-12 level and starred for Queensland at the National Under-18 Championships in 2016 to earn his chance at the elite level.
He played six NEAFL games with Brisbane before being taken with pick 34 in the 2016 NAB AFL National Draft, but endured an injury-riddled career with North Melbourne.
“I tore my ACL in my first year, so I missed most of my first and second year,” Watson said.
“This year I got sick early on and battled through chronic fatigue, so that was pretty frustrating. Then I tore my medial with about a month to go in the season, so that pretty much finished me up.
“It wasn’t the smoothest of rides, but I learned plenty and made a lot of great mates along the way, and I am looking forward to the next stage of my life.”
Now 21, Watson says he has watched Aspley with interest over the past couple of seasons and is looking forward to re-joining the club and chasing premiership success.
He has yet to feature for the Hornets at senior level – a milestone which will be a special moment come his first match next season.
“In the last couple of years I’ve kept an eye on them. It’s been good to watch that and know you’re going to be a part of a team with really good experienced players. It’s pretty exciting, and also with the young guys coming through as well, I can’t wait to get stuck into playing,” he said.
“I’ll probably ease myself into pre-season given my injury but come Round 1 next season I’ll be ready to go.
“I’ve had history with ‘Webby’ (coach Daniel Webster) who was a part of the Under-16 and Under-18 state programs when I was coming through, so I’ve always really enjoyed being coached by him.
“The main thing for me next season is just to go out there and remember you play footy for fun and enjoying it again.”
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