BALLARAT’S Tom Stapleton will make his long-awaited debut to the Ballarat Football League on Saturday, having been off the senior stage for more than two years.
Stapleton ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in the pre-season last year, missing the entire 2013 season after undergoing a complete knee reconstruction.
Having spent the previous year living overseas, it will mean his return in the Swans colours tomorrow will be his first senior match since August, 2011.
The tough midfielder has been named among the best in the last two matches in the reserves and says he could not be better prepared for his side’s crucial match against Redan.
“The knee couldn’t be holding up any better than what it is at the moment,” he said.
“I was more than happy to come back through the reserves but I said to Bakes (coach Ash Baker) that I was ready to come back. I’m excited but obviously a bit nervous at the same time, I’m just raring to go.”
Stapleton said he originally planned to make a return after next week’s interleague bye, but said the two reserves games had him itching to get back into the senior side.
He has played just 15 senior matches, back in 2011, but was named in the best in eight of those games and is hoping for similar returns for the rest of the season.
“I was originally hoping to get back after interleague but the knee feels good so I’m ready to go,” he said.
Meanwhile, Clunes young gun Jesse Baird will play the first of a handful of games for the Magpies on Saturday.
Baird, who was listed with the North Ballarat Roosters last year, is now based in Western Australia, but will be flown back at different times during the Central Highlands Football League season.
The forward is a big boost to the Clunes side which is looking for just its second win of the year against Beaufort.