EDDY Gattek's decision to return to football after a two-year break culminated in a senior debut.
The Warrnambool wingman was a late call-up for the Blues' clash with cross-town rival South Warrnambool at Friendly Societies' Park on Saturday.
His aim now is to retain his spot in the finals-bound Hampden league side.
Gattek, 21, said he was grateful to be back in the Blues' fold in 2022 after taking a break from the sport.
"I had two years off footy because of injuries and stuff," he said.
"This is my first year back. I missed playing with my mates and the social side of it, I reckon that is overlooked.
"I reckon it's good for your mental health being with your friends and having a good vibe."
Gattek suffered a meniscus injury which was the instigator for his time away from the game.
"I thought I'd relax and look after my body for a bit because footy is not forever," he said.
Gattek, who started his football journey at junior club Emmanuel Hawks before joining Warrnambool at under 18 level, said he learned lessons in his first senior match.
"I was nervous because I only found out the morning of the game (that I was playing)," he said.
"It meant a lot and playing with a good bunch of boys who are always supportive of my ability. It was good to get recognised and get a chance to play."
The Bunnings employee said a shutdown role on the wing was his task against the Roosters.
"Parky (coach Ben Parkinson) said to everyone 'don't get beaten and play the one per centers' because it was a terrible day and the ground was really muddy," Gattek said.
"Beating your opponent was the main thing Parky was adamant about."
Using his skill-set on the larger, drier Reid Oval is something Gattek wants to do on Saturday against Cobden - if he retains his spot.
Gattek, whose older brother Mar works at VFL club Werribee as a diversity manager, prides himself on his speed, outside running, foot skills and work in the contest.
"Bringing players into the game, I feel like I am good at that," he said.
Warrnambool is all but assured fifth spot come finals.
Gattek believes they have overcome a tough period of heavy losses and can find their best form.
"It's definitely been up and down and we've lost a few games we should've won," he said.
"But I think we can finish the season on a high honestly because even though we lost to South last week, spirits are high because we're doing all the correct things Parky wants us to do and everyone was getting around each other."
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