JAY Rantall is preparing for a new football challenge after committing to VFL club Footscray.
The South Warrnambool export, who trained with the Hampden league club prior to Christmas, said the Bulldogs seemed like the ideal fit, particularly given his decision to start a university course in the area.
"I am studying building design at Vic uni and had talks with (the Bulldogs) in the past and it just seemed like a really good fit," he told The Standard.
"They (Victoria University) have two campuses - a Footscray campus and a Sunshine campus - but both their campuses are out in the west so it ties in well with where I am going to live and play footy.
"Plus it's a bit of a bonus being on the Warrnambool side of Melbourne as well which helps."
Rantall, coming off a premiership with SANFL side Norwood, will start pre-season training with Footscray on Wednesday night.
The endurance specialist expects to face a challenge for playing time given the team is an affiliate of AFL club Western Bulldogs.
"It was an easy decision in the end (to sign). They have looked after me well so far so I am excited to get stuck into it," Rantall said.
"I don't really have any expectations on it because it is an affiliated side but I do know the AFL do take priority in developing their players.
"I want to play as a bit of a midfielder but to be honest I just want to play footy and am looking forward to just playing at the highest level I can."
Rantall, who spent two seasons at AFL club Collingwood before joining Norwood, said he was eager to start his university course too.
"It is something I have found interest in the past six months," he said.
"I looked into it and wasn't able to really start studying or working in that area until I made the move to Melbourne."
The chance to spend time at home in Warrnambool with his family after the Redlegs' premiership in September was invaluable for Rantall who stayed with dad Tim, mum Lia and younger brother Wil, an emerging Warrnambool Seahawks basketballer and South Warrnambool footballer.
He said it was one of the main reasons he took time to decide on his playing future.
"I was quite excited to have some family time and catch up with some friends," Rantall said.
"I am a big family man and it was nice to be back home."
Watching Wil progress through the sporting ranks is something Rantall relishes.
"It's quite enjoyable to be honest," he said.
"It's nice to be on the other end as a supporter - instead of him chasing me around, I'm chasing him around.
"I think I am falling into his shadow, which he's letting me know a fair bit, but it's good he's doing great things and enjoying it, that's the main thing."
The 2023 VFL season will start on March 25 with all teams to play 18 games across the 22 rounds.
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