By: Joseph Arthur
DONVALE premiership forward Jack Purcell returned to the footy field for the first time in over a year last weekend starring with seven goals, as he led the Magpies to a convincing 33-point win over the Waverley Blues.
It was Purcell’s first real hit-out since missing all of 2018 due to a ruptured ACL he sustained in the season prior, a season in which the deep-forward kicked 77 goals.
Purcell was in high spirits after the game, enjoying his return to footy.
“Obviously made it pretty enjoyable being able to compete and do well,” Purcell said.
“To come out and kick seven, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.”
However it wasn’t all smiles and victories for Jack leading up to the weekend, the big-bodied forward said he very seriously considered retirement before finally deciding to get back ahead of season 2019.
“I actually questioned whether or not I’d ever come back, my business and my family had taken precedence,” Purcell said.
“Even up to Christmas time last year I still wasn’t sure. I didn’t do any pre-season before Christmas, I haven’t done the right rehab, and I’m just sort of winging it to be quite honest.
“It (retirement) is one of those things you’ll probably look back on and regret. Once it’s gone it’s gone.”
Upon returning to the track, it took some time for Purcell to get back in the swing of things and find his form from years past.
“I was just doing very slow stuff at training and ramping it up each week,” he said.
“Second practice match I played I was pretty average, at half time I was actually questioning whether or not I was going to continue on, I didn’t get near it, I couldn’t move, I was slow to the contest.
“I asked myself, ‘maybe I shouldn’t do this’, but went out in the third quarter and kicked two and thought, ‘alright there’s a bit of hope’.”
Purcell credited his forward line and the new 6-6-6 rule for his Round 1 performance in his comeback game.
“Our firepower in our forward line is ridiculous,” Purcell said.
“If we end up playing Zac Haig in full forward each week, which they are talking about, (along with Nick Murphy) I could potentially be getting the third defender.
“I’m very good one-on-one so it obviously helps me with the new 6-6-6 rule, everything is just sort of suiting me this year.”
After a shaky couple of weeks, Purcell said that his competitive fire and love of the game is well and truly back.
“I’m a really competitive guy, I don’t like to just be playing, I want to try and be the best I can. So my aim is not to kick 50 goals, it’s to kick 100,” Purcell said.
“Whether that’s realistic or not, I don’t know.
“Just as long as the coach is happy with what I’m doing and I’m doing the stuff to get the four points.”
First-year Donvale head coach Dennet Merton was relieved to have Purcell back in the mix and was proud of his star’s performance against the Waverley Blues.
“It was great to have Jack back in the side he just gives us that vocal point, it’s a bit like going back to ’70s or ’80s football watching Jack, he’s a big boy that just monsters his opponents a lot of the time,” Merton said.
“We know if we’re under pressure and we can’t get our eyes down to hit up a leading target, we’re going to get a contest every time from Jack.”
Purcell, Merton and the Magpies will be looking to continue their hot start this weekend when they take on cross-town rivals Warrandyte at home.