JACKSON Merrett is bullish about Peel Thunder's prospects following a WAFL decision to start the delayed 2020 season in August.
The former Essendon utility was preparing for his second season at the Mandurah-based club when the COVID-19 pandemic brought training to a halt.
The WAFL has earmarked August 1 for round one.
Merrett, who played 56 AFL games for the Bombers, said it was pleasing Peel Thunder had a date to strive for.
"It is a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel but obviously there's a bit of water to go under the bridge," he told The Standard from Perth.
"It makes training a little bit easier and the motivation levels are enhanced.
"We've been on individual programs for the past two-and-a-half-months but we've been fortunate enough to go back to training.
"We had our first session last week and we'll be training one day a week for the next couple of weeks until the government releases information surrounding social distancing laws and group training. We're obviously dictated to by that."
The WAFL will be without West Coast in 2020, owing to AFL conditions.
The ruling also mean Peel Thunder, which is affiliated with Fremantle, will be without AFL players.
If you’ve been living under a rock all weekend, you might have missed that @WAFLOfficial footy is back starting the first weekend of August!— Peel Thunder (@peelthunder) May 25, 2020
We can’t wait! 🙌👊
Details are still to be worked out, so stay locked to our socials for updates!
Merrett, who hails from Cobden, said the club had depth to cover the Dockers' absence.
"It's an exciting opportunity for some of the younger guys on our list," he said.
"It gives them a bit more of an opportunity to show what they've got and it can only hold Peel in good stead for the future, pump some games into them now and give them some more experience moving forward.
"Peel is in a good position. Last year our colts made the grand final and quite a fair few of them stepped out of colts football and were ready to play with us anyway."
"I think it is important for the community and society as a whole to have something to look forward to and invest in."
Merrett said the shortened WAFL season, which will finish no later than a week prior to the AFL grand final, would have far-reaching benefits.
"It is something to read in the papers and something to take your mind off what's going on in the world," he said.
"Sport plays a big part in that...especially in small country towns and communities.
"Peel, being about 45 minutes to an hour away from Perth, means it's almost a big country town itself and it plays a big part in the community."
Merrett said he was "in a good spot" and was enjoying the Western Australian lifestyle.
"It took me three or four months to settle in and it started to reflect in my football after about round six (last year)," he said.
"It (a move into the midfield) was a little bit of a correlation with my form last year as well. I started forward and then went into the midfield and started to improve from there."
The brother of Essendon midfielder Zach said he was unsure what his long-term future held.
But Merrett, whose parents still live in Cobden, said he was comfortable with his decision to move west last year.
"I haven't really got a plan mapped out...whether we're here for another year or another 20 years," he said.
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