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.”