Unfinished business and the return of old faces to East Fremantle this season was the tonic that convinced Brock O'Brien to reignite his WAFL career.

The former Dockers defender quit the league last May after a recurrence of the soft-tissue injuries that blighted his four seasons at Fremantle and ultimately cut short his time at AFL level.

It was a timely break that allowed him to return to home club Pinjarra where, freed from the training regime of more senior football, he got his body right and starred in a premiership.

But the achievement also got O'Brien thinking about other missed opportunities - namely the 2012 WAFL grand final when East Fremantle let the game slip in the final quarter against Claremont after a gallant comeback.

Now back in the Sharks league side, O'Brien feels the time is right for a premiership challenge, with Jamie McNamara and Bradd Dalziell also back at the club full-time.

The immediate goal is a win in today's derby against South Fremantle at East Fremantle Oval to strengthen his side's grip on second spot.

"Missing out on that grand final put a bit of a dampener on things," O'Brien said.

"But with J-Mac coming back and Bradd Dalziell, we've got a good strong core of senior players here.

"It's only early days at the moment, but we're playing some pretty good footy. I think we're going to be there at the end of the year in the finals.

"I reckon we can give it a good shake this year."

O'Brien said his decision to briefly quit East Fremantle, where he plays alongside elder brother Rory, had been purely born out of frustration.

"I thought I'd have the year off," he said.

"I didn't have to train much down there. It was just about game day and to just get back to enjoying my footy basically down there with my other two brothers and my mates.

"After experiencing the grand final down in the PFL (Peel Football League), I was keen to come back."

O'Brien told club officials, including coach Steve Malaxos, at an off-season meeting he wanted to be used in the back line if he returned.

It was a brave call given he twice led East Fremantle's goal kicking, in 2011 and 2012, but the switch appears to be paying dividends with the former Docker best afield against Peel Thunder on Good Friday.

"I was drafted as a back man, so I feel a lot more comfortable down there," O'Brien said.

The Sharks will recall Tom Howlett, who has recovered from illness.

I think we're going to be there at the end of the year in the finals." *Brock O'Brien *

The West Australian

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