The West

Reborn defender Jamie Bennell says his first game for West Coast last night felt like making his AFL debut all over again.

The 23-year-old made a successful return during yesterday’s 65-point hiding of the Western Bulldogs at Patersons Stadium.

The former Demon had 16 disposals playing as the team’s specialist small defender, including seven contested possessions and three rebound-50s.

Bennell’s dash out of the backline was a noticeable asset for the Eagles and showed the recruit had lost none of his athleticism after undergoing a knee reconstruction in 2012.

He said it was nice to be rewarded with a game after all the hard work spent during 18 months of rehabilitation.

“It was just a great feeling running out yesterday arvo with a full house,” he said.

“It’s something I won’t forget. It was almost like a first game again. It was beautiful to get out there.”

Bennell found himself de-listed by Melbourne at the end of the 2012 season after managing 57 games in four years on the club’s list, largely playing as a small forward.

West Coast decided to rookie list Bennell despite knowing the West Australian was coming off a serious knee injury.

He said he would be forever grateful for the second chance, but had never lost faith in his ability to perform again at the elite level.

“When I first did my injury, I always had in the back of my mind I was always going to play AFL footy again,” he said.

“I kept positive the whole way and it’s paid off.”

The West Australian

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