Returning Balic looks ahead

05 February 2018 07:23:47 EST

A move back to his home city has given Harley Balic the chance to get his AFL career back on track.

The midfielder will bid this year to establish himself in the Melbourne side, after being traded last October.

His spell with Fremantle was beset by physical and mental problems, and he requested a trade from the Dockers to return to Melbourne.

Balic, who was drafted to Fremantle with pick No.38 in the 2015 AFL Draft, needed to have a third operation on a wrist injury when he arrived at the Dockers.

His stint on the sidelines left him depressed and missing family and friends in Melbourne, he admits.

"I started feeling not like myself," said the 21-year-old. "I got some bad anxiety and even panic attacks. I went through stages where I'd shut myself off and I started becoming really unhappy."

Unable to play in 2016 due to his wrist injury, he finally made his AFL debut against Western Bulldogs in round three last year and played four games for the Dockers between rounds three and seven.

He averaged 13 disposals and kicked three goals in that stint before missing the next game against Richmond due to illness. The following week Fremantle granted a leave of absence to deal with a personal issue, which saw him return to be closer to family in Melbourne.

Realising at that time he needed to move back to Victoria, he approached coach Ross Lyon and football manager Chris Bond and asked for a trade to a Melbourne-based club.

The Demons agreed to a swap with the Dockers, sending pick No.66 in exchange for the midfielder/forward and handing him a one-year deal.

Now he could be in contention for a senior spot depending on how he fares in the upcoming JLT Community Series.

Balic, who averaged 30 disposals and seven marks during his WAFL career, says he knows he can play AFL football and the move back to Melbourne has helped get his head right.

He added: "Now that I've done that I don't see any reason why I can't (play at the highest level). I'd like to play as soon as possible, hopefully round one, and play good footy for this club."

Melbourne are 50/1 to win the Grand Final and 1/3 to finish in the top eight.

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