Returning Ellard Thriving On Comeback To Swans

Friday, August 18, 2017 - 10:27 AM

SWAN Districts co-captain David Ellard returns from a hamstring injury this Saturday against Claremont and he has been a significant inclusion for Swans in 2017, but has no doubt several other former and future AFL-listed players have been just as vital.

Ellard was named co-captain for Swan Districts in 2017 alongside the incomparable Tallan Ames highlighting the immediate respect he was held in on return to Steel Blue Oval following his AFL career with Carlton.

Ellard came right through the ranks at Swan Districts including playing some outstanding colts football and making a standout league debut in Round 10, 2007 when he kicked three goals to go with 14 possessions.

That would prove his only league game of that season but he had impressed so much in that, with the Western Australia State 18s team and in the colts at Swan Districts that he went on to be picked by Carlton in the rookie draft heading into the 2008 AFL season.

He immediately fit in at the Blues and spent the next nine years of his life there playing 63 AFL games and kicking 37 goals.

While injury robbed him of the chance to play more than the 63 matches he ended up playing, the esteem he was held in at the Blues is highlighted by the fact they stuck with him for the nine years despite the injury hurdles he continued to run into.

Ellard managed 23 games in his last two seasons at Carlton before announcing he would retire from the AFL at the end of 2015.

Then he wanted to make his return to where it all began in 2017 at Swan Districts and that has proven a great success.

The 28-year-old was named co-captain and was immediately put into a role in the midfield with a Swans team desperate to rise back up the ladder after a two-win season in 2016.

Swans won their first four games of the season with Ellard a star in each of them averaging 26 disposals in the midfield alongside Adam Faulkner, Matt Riggio, Ryan Crowley and with ruckman Corey Gault.

Ellard continued his outstanding form and could perhaps be considered unlucky to miss selection in the WAFL State team that went on to create history and beat Victoria in Melbourne.

Prior to his hamstring injury suffered in Round 17 against South Fremantle, Ellard had been spending a bit more time as a small forward which was a role he had grown accustomed to in his latter years at Carlton.

Now after missing the games against Peel, Subiaco and East Perth, Ellard is set to return this Saturday in a crucial match for Swans against Claremont at Steel Blue Oval.

Ellard has enjoyed his return to Swan Districts in 2017 and everything that has come with it.

"It's been great coming back," Ellard told 91.3 SportFM.

"I always wanted to come back and finish off playing here so to come back to the club that I started with has been great. To be a part of a club in a rebuilding phase has been a real highlight as well."

Ellard is much more focused on paying tribute to some of his teammates, though, than extolling his own contributions to Swans' rise back up the ladder in 2017.

One of those players is exciting young small forward Taryce Stewart. The 18-year-old has kicked 26 goals this season and Ellard has no doubt he has a future at the next level.

"He's a pretty special player and he's been great for us this year," he said.

"He adds something to our forward-line that we don’t really have so hopefully it all goes well for him and he is playing on an AFL list. But we'll be more than happy to keep him down at Swans for as long as we can."

Another player who has an AFL past like Ellard is Todd Banfield. He has now been back with Swan Districts for several seasons following his time at the Brisbane Lions, and he is without doubt having his best year on return to Swans now in 2017.

He has become likely the leading pressure forward in the WAFL and has kicked 22 goals on top of that with Ellard having no doubt of the impact he's having on the team, and teammates like Stewart.

"He's a real leader of that forward-line as well and he can make someone like Taryce lift as a player especially with the pressure he puts on," he said.

"He is a senior player down there and is a barometer of our forward-line. When he's up and going he is such an exciting player to watch and he is leading our pressure in the forward-line by a big way. As long as he's up and going, our forward-line seems to function well."

Another player who has played AFL football is Corey Gault who is in his first season back in the WAFL with Swans after his time at Collingwood.

He is likely locked in a battle with Claremont's Mitch Andrews and South Fremantle's Brock Higgins over who has been the WAFL's best ruckman in 2017, but Gault can't possibly be in better form than he is right now and Ellard wouldn’t want any other big man leading his team.

"He is a great athlete and he probably spent a lot of the first half of the year playing a lot in our forward-line, but in the second half of the year he has really taken on that ruck spot upon himself," Ellard said.

"With the way he gets around the ground he is an impressive specimen. He has been holding that ruck position now and I don’t see him going anywhere from there."

By Chris Pike.