By: JESS WEBSTER
Essendon top-up Sam Michael returns home to Redland
Former Essendon utility Sam Michael will return home to the Redland Bombers next season.
The 23-year-old played two AFL games for Essendon this year after being recruited as a top-up player during the off-season.
It was Michael’s second in the AFL after he was initially recruited by Brisbane as a rookie selection in 2012.
After a whirlwind 12 months, Michael said he enjoyed his experience at Essendon but was looking forward to relocating back to Queensland.
“It was one of the most enjoyable football seasons I’ve had,” he said.
“Obviously, it came on the back of some unfortunate circumstances for the football club, but it was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down.
“I made some amazing new friends and Melbourne is a great spot, but at the same time I am looking forward to moving back to Brisbane and being closer to family and reuniting with the Redland Football Club.”
Michael was first recruited to Brisbane as a zone selection from Redland four years ago, and was awarded the Andrew Ireland Medal for best-on-ground in the 2012 NEAFL Championship Final against Queanbeyan.
He made his AFL debut in Round 9, 2013 and played three games with the Lions before being delisted at the end of 2014.
When Michael returned to Redland for the second time, he was a member of the NEAFL’s representative victory against Tasmania in 2015 before being snapped up by Essendon when 12 of their players were banned for the length of the 2016 season under anti-doping rules.
Michael will reunite with Brisbane Lions’ NEAFL premiership coach Leigh Harding next year, who replaces Chris David at the helm of Redland.
Michael still has ambitions to return to the AFL for a third time, and believes he comes back to Redland with his best football still ahead of him.
“The dream is still there to be back on an AFL list one day, but for now I’m looking forward to playing back in the NEAFL and honing my craft with Redland, and the opportunity working with my old coach in Leigh Harding,” he said.
“We are going to be optimistic about next year. We’ve got a couple of good signings and a lot of boys staying on board.
“I feel mentally ready and prepared. I think my best football is ahead of me and I’m a lot better off having another year in the AFL system. I feel like an improved player.”
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