ZACC Struth says his 2013 football season is all about giving back.
The 23-year-old, who played the past three seasons with VFL club North Ballarat Roosters, is committed to re-joining his junior club South Warrnambool as it prepares for its first season in an expanded Hampden Football Netball League competition.
The speedy midfielder will bolster the Roosters’ engine room, which will be without best-and-fairest winner James Hussey and co-captains Joe Dalton and Jarrod Thompson, who have all moved away from the region.
Struth, who inked a deal with South this week, revealed repaying the club that gave him his start had been part of his thinking for some time.
After making his senior debut with South while completing year 12 studies five years ago, he took a gap year with the intention of playing with the Roosters. But he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury which required surgery, dashing those plans.
In his three years with North Ballarat, he played two senior VFL games in 2011 and 48 reserves matches. He also made fleeting appearances with South Warrnambool, including an impressive performance in round eight last year against eventual premier Warrnambool.
Struth, who finished a physical education/science teaching degree at Ballarat University last year, said he was happy to be back in Warrnambool and the familar surrounds of the Friendly Societies’ Park.
“I’ve always had an intention to come back home. I wasn’t sure when it would be,” he said.
“My girlfriend got a job down here at Stringer Clark as a graduate lawyer, which has allowed us to come back to Warrnambool.
“I’ve been looking forward to coming back and playing at South. I’m really excited about the year.”
He said missing a year with a knee injury had fuelled his desire to have a full year in the red and white at senior level.
“I’ve just been really keen to get back and try and give back to my junior club which gave me such a good start,” he said.
Struth said his body was in good condition, despite serious injuries to both knees, including one ACL, one medial ligament and two dislocations.
He said he was keen to help South wherever he could.
He will take a key midfielder’s role in what is shaping as a younger side than last season, when the team failed to make the finals after winning the 2011 premiership.
“I just want to help bring on a young group at South. We’ve got a few young players which have a lot of potential and hopefully we can drill into them the style we want to play and make their transition and improvement to senior football as quick as possible,” he said.
“Hopefully that will hold us in good stead.
“I will be happy to take on any leadership. I would do whatever I can to help. I haven’t got any leadership role but I am happy to help.”