STAR forward Sam Mildren is eyeing a return to the field with Newbridge in the Loddon Valley league next year.
Mildren was forced to retire after winning a second Bendigo league premiership with Strathfieldsaye in 2015 due to a chronic hip injury.
However, while he admits he hasn’t missed playing football the past two seasons, the 29-year-old is planning on making a comeback in 2018, providing his hip can stand up to the rigours.
“The situation at this stage is I’m going to have a go with some training sessions and if my body holds up then I’ll plonk myself down at full-forward and give them a bit of a hand,” Mildren said on Sunday.
“The body has obviously felt a lot fresher since I finished at Strath; it just needed time to mend.
“But who knows how it will unfold and Newbridge is aware that it might be all for nothing, but the least I can do is try.
“I can see they are in a good position to seriously challenge for a flag next year, so I think the timing is right to have another go… I don’t want to get to 35 and think I might have been able to help them out.”
Mildren was a former captain of Newbridge before he was recruited by Strathfieldsaye.
He spent five seasons at the Storm between 2011 and 2015 and despite being hampered by injury, kicked 243 goals – 59, 57, 51, 45 and 41 – in 63 games.
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Mildren starred in the Storm’s 2014 grand final win over Sandhurst, booting seven goals and taking 13 marks to win the AFL Victoria Medal.
“To be honest, I haven’t missed footy the past couple of years and that’s what some people might find hard to understand with trying to come back,” Mildren said.
“I’ve been happily retired, and when you finish playing footy you wonder how you had the time to do it given it’s such a huge commitment.
“But I just don’t want to get to my mid-30s and think I could have had a bit more of a go, so that’s the reason I’m doing it.
“My dad (Glenn) is involved out there and is a life member and I’d like to get back out there and get involved again at the club.”
While Mildren says there are no guarantees his comeback attempt will be a success, he is confident of returning to the field.
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“I wouldn’t be saying I’m prepared to come back if I didn’t think I’d be able to play again,” Mildren said.
“I’m confident I will play, but in saying that, I’ve barely broken stride in two years, so there’s a lot of work that needs to be done before I get match fit.”
In Mildren’s last season at Newbridge in 2010 he spearheaded the Loddon Valley to a 23-point inter-league win over Ovens and King, kicking nine goals.
Newbridge, which has appointed Brad Comer as its new coach, was beaten by eventual premier Calivil United in this year’s preliminary final. The Maroons haven’t won a flag since 2000.