Clarke’s faith re­warded


ESSENDON re­cruit Zac Clarke is con­fi­dent that he can play in the same team as Tom Bellcham­bers next sea­son, hav­ing fo­cused on his for­ward craft dur­ing a year of ex­ile from the AFL.

Delisted by Fre­man­tle at the end of 2017 af­ter 101 games across eight sea­sons, the 203cm ruck­man re­dis­cov­ered top form in the WAFL this year, record­ing 17 dis­pos­als, 50 hit-outs and kick­ing a goal to help lead Su­bi­aco to a dom­i­nant Grand Fi­nal win. That game, among oth­ers, caught the at­ten­tion of sev­eral AFL clubs who put Clarke through med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tions be­fore the Vic­to­rian chose Essendon as his pre­ferred des­ti­na­tion and was listed dur­ing the AFL Pre-Sea­son Sup­ple­men­tal Se­lec­tion Pe­riod ear­lier this month.

Clarke, 28, be­gan a teach­ing de­gree at univer­sity this year and took up a coach­ing role at a Perth high school, but said his de­ter­mi­na­tion to re­turn to the AFL never wa­vered. “I was re­ally con­fi­dent if my body held up my best foot­ball is ca­pa­ble at AFL level, and that’s the way it went,” Clarke said.

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