IT has been over five years since Matthew McVilly last played a game of football.
The 2006 South Warrnambool premiership player ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament while playing for Newtown and Chilwell in the Geelong Football League in round 3, 2011.
The injury came just months after McVilly had played in South Warrnambool’s Hampden league grand final loss to Warrnambool.
A four-and-a-half-year stint overseas put football on the backburner, but now the 28-year-old is set to reignite his playing career, signing on with the Roosters for 2017.
“It’s been a fair while since I’ve played at all,” he said.
“First off, I just hope to get a kick. I just want to really help out the young guys as much as I can and help out (the leaders like) Nick Thompson and those types of guys.”
McVilly helped on the bench in 2016, with the role evolving into an assistant coaching position as the season progressed, and has been part of the committee driving the club’s recruiting push.
“I started off just helping out (on the bench) then eventually went into all the meetings … started taking the midfield group on game day and had a fair bit to do at training,” McVilly said.
“It was a big learning experience for me.
“But watching this year was pretty hard because I wished I could’ve been out there helping them a bit.”
McVilly settled back in the area in March and has been training with the Roosters since to build himself up to playing again.
“I’ve just been training to slowly try to get my fitness back up to Hampden league standard,” he said.
“My first two months were terrible: I couldn’t really get through a session and my skills were terrible.”
But as the season progressed his skills and fitness built and, working physiotherapy and pilates into his routine, McVilly is doing all he can to to ensure his body will be 100 per cent heading into next season.
South Warrnambool coach Mathew Buck said the Roosters were not placing expectations on McVilly to be the player he was when he was last at the club, but were excited by what he would bring to the group.
“He’s been around footy for a long time. His footy knowledge is incredibly good,” Buck said.
“He’ll now be able to take that on the field as well. He’ll be like a coach who can play.”
Buck said he had not “pigeon-holed” McVilly into any position yet, envisioning the 28-year-old capable of slotting into a number of spots as needed.
McVilly is not the only Rooster flocking back to Friendly Societies Park, with James Hussey and Liam Youl returning, while Sam Thompson is back from overseas travels.