FORMER Fremantle Docker Clayton Hinkley cannot wait to run around in a Warrack Eagles guernsey again.
Hinkley will return to his home club after announcing he would not play for VFL side Port Melbourne next season.
A chance to play alongside siblings Jason and Dale and a number of close friends was a big reason behind Hinkley’s decision, with the 24-year-old confident the Eagles will push for a grand final berth.
“It’s all about enjoying my footy again, ticking off a box I’ve always wanted to do with playing alongside my two brothers, my best mate Peter Weir and another good mate in Ben Spicer,” he said.
“We’re hoping this year will be the year where guys will come back from surrounding leagues.
“If everything comes together I think we’ll be really strong contenders.”
Hinkley was part of a golden period in Warrack’s junior football, winning back-to-back under-17s flags in 2004 and 2005.
“We had a really good era and there was a lot of good players who came through,” he said. “Kyle Cheney’s playing at Hawthorn now and Nick Peters was another great player.”
Hinkley went on to co-captain the North Ballarat Rebels’ TAC Cup side and played in Vic Country’s National Under-18s Championship before getting drafted by the Dockers with pick number 24 in the 2007 AFL National Draft.
He played 22 games in four seasons with the Dockers before being delisted at the end of 2011.
Hinkley, who will travel from Melbourne with his brother Jason and housemate Rob Grainger, said a couple of former Port Melbourne team-mates were also considering signing at the Eagles, but that was still up in the air.
He admitted his 2013 VFL campaign did not go to plan, with achilles issues plaguing him, but he would not rule out a return to the league in future years.
“It was a bit of a disappointing year injury-wise,” he said.
“I couldn’t fathom going around another season in the VFL – it’s very demanding with training four times a week and playing.
“With my achilles tendonitis, I just wanted a pre-season where I could do my own thing and get my body right.”