Former Brisbane Lion and Sydney Swan Lewis Taylor says he was always passionate about returning to play for his junior club.
The 27-year-old, who played 124 AFL games, was announced on Tuesday as a playing-assistant coach for Terang Mortlake next Hampden league season.
Taylor hopes to play as many matches as possible in 2023 for the Bloods, saying he would like to get to "more than half".
After being delisted by Sydney in September, the Mortlake product took some time to assess his future but ultimately decided to come home.
"There were a few different options (at AFL level), once that didn't work out there was a bit of VFL stuff that was floated or SANFL, that sort of league," he told The Standard.
"At the end of the day I just thought it was good to get home. When you're away for nine, 10 years you don't really get to see much of your family as much as you'd like.
"It's a good opportunity to get back and obviously give back to the club where I played all my juniors.
"Growing up the club did a lot for me back in the day as well, so it's good for me to give back."
Taylor still has a strong connection to the area with brother Lachlan and dad Simon residing there, as well as childhood friends.
Some of his close mates and under 16 premiership teammates still play with the Bloods and most years in the past he would stop by for a training session.
Terang Mortlake president Joel Crawley said the return of the Bloods' favourite son was "exciting for the whole community" and they "couldn't have really gotten a better person back to the club".
He said the club knew it was possible Taylor might return home thanks to the lure of his friends.
The addition of the experienced midfielder-forward, who won the AFL Rising Star award in 2014 and earned VFL team of the year honours last season, will be invaluable for the youth-laden Bloods.
The developing side finished eighth this year but after a strong recruiting drive expectations are higher for 2023.
"As of last year our average age could have been 21," Crawley said.
"So to have (Taylor's) experience around those young guys, you can't measure how much that's going to make the side improve. And I guess just his skill, his voice, his leadership and just a good person around the club."
Taylor is well prepared for a leadership role after completing some coaching courses while playing for Sydney. He predicts a bright future for the club's promising young crop of players.
"I've followed the boys a lot of the years, there was good signs towards the end of this year," he said.
"That can do pretty well for sides leading into the next season, that can sometimes carry over."
Taylor said he would likely continue living and working in the Northern Territory with his brother Toby for a while before looking at moving back to the area.
He works for former Mortlake resident Tim Delaney's company, Kendel Building.
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