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Collins aiming to go to next level on return to Swans

Thursday, December 16, 2021 - 12:10 AM

Getting a taste of being in the AFL has only strengthened the drive for Will Collins to make everything he can of his football career as he focuses on giving everything on going up another level at Swan Districts in 2022.

Collins has signed to return to Swan Districts for the next two years having got a taste of life in the AFL for the second half of the 2021 season having been picked up by the West Coast Eagles in the mid-season rookie draft.

The rollercoaster of a 12 months continued for the Swan Districts defender when he wasn’t offered a contract extension after that half a season at the Eagles, but what it has done is strengthen his resolve to make football his career moving forward.

The first step in that is now returning to Swan Districts and having the best WAFL season he can in 2022, and that's his sole focus right now.

"In the end it became a very obviously decision. It's where I played my footy previously and especially with how well they did last year, I'm looking forward to being part of a successful team next year now," Collins said.

"Before I was picked up by West Coast I was just sort of playing footy and enjoying it, but then I got into the West Coast environment and it really opened my eyes. That's when I decided that I really wanted to do this for the next 10 years of my life and try to make the best of it that I can.

"I really loved my time there but it only made me want to experience more of it and now my ultimate goal for this year is to play some good footy with Swans and hopefully if things all go well at the end of the year maybe get my name called out again."

There really is just the one word to describe the ride over the past 12 months that Collins has been on, and that's a rollercoaster.

Coming off a strong colts career with Swans, there was high hopes of Collins being drafted at the end of 2020 and when it didn’t eventuate, he couldn’t help but feel a great deal of disappointment.

However, rather than let it get him down, he focused on playing the best football he could with Swans and started the 2021 WAFL season strongly both at league and reserves level.

He was so impressive that West Coast selected him in the mid-season rookie draft. While he didn’t get to make his AFL debut, he played another eight games at WAFL level with the Eagles and got to experience life inside an AFL environment.

To then not be retained on West Coast's list was another kick in the guts, but what Collins knows now more than anything is that he wants to give everything to having the best football career he can.

"This year has been, for want of a better word, a rollercoaster. There was the heartache at around this time last year of not getting drafted and then I spent the summer training at West Coast, and didn’t get picked up," he said.

"I was then able to come back to Swans and play some good footy before getting drafted halfway through the year. That was a dream come true kind of thing and I thoroughly enjoyed my time at West Coast.

"And then, I ended up not having my contract renewed and it was a hell of a back of forth to go through this year. It's funny how all these things work themselves out but I'm happy to be coming back to Swans now."

Collins is the latest signing confirmed for 2022 at Swan Districts joining fellow AFL-listed players Jarvis Pina, Tobe Watson and Jarrod Cameron.

On the back of all three grades reaching finals in 2021 and the colts winning the premiership, there are plenty of reasons why Collins is excited for what 2022 holds at Steel Blue Oval.

"I'm excited to see what this year holds for everyone at Swans really. When I left there were a lot of people pushing to play ones and that was evident in the season results for all three grades really. It's a very exciting place to be coming into next year,"

"We've got some serious quality coming in with the likes of ex-AFL dudes and what not on top of the guys returning. I'm keen to play with all those guys and hopefully we can all help the team progress to going even further than we were able to do last year."

Collins looks set to become part of an already strong defensive unit at Swan Districts as well. While Alex Howard has retired, Collins, Watson and Pina all look capable of playing a role alongside the returning Tony Notte, Anthony Stephens, Brandon Erceg and Chris Jones.

That's something Collins is certainly looking forward to, but if he's asked to play a different role he'll happily give that his all too.

"To be honest I can't remember the last time I played anywhere but in the back-line. I'm not sure what the coaching staff have in mind for me this season but I just want to make sure I'm playing whatever role is needed for the team. If that's elsewhere then so be it, but I'm very comfortable as a defender," Collins said.

"I obviously played the first half of last season with those boys and really enjoyed the bond that we all had as a back six. You don't get the glory as a defender but we have a close bond and are happy to play together. I'm really excited to come back and play with those boys, there are some seriously special footballers there on our team."

Collins has now overcome a knee complaint and is about to commence his pre-season training with Swans as he sets his sights on having the season of his life in 2022.

"Pre-season has already started but I had a little bit of a knee complaint over the off-season so I've been stalled a bit with that," Collins said.

"But I'm back at the club this Tuesday for the first time and am ready to go, and ready to give pre-season a big crack. I'll hopefully put in lots of work so I can improve my endurance but also maintain my speed and keep working on my strength. That's what I'm looking forward to over the next couple of months."