Tom Cole says his decision to re-sign with the West Coast Eagles was a no-brainer.
The former Bendigo Pioneers and Sandhurst defender signed a three-year contract extension that will keep him with the Eagles until the end of 2025.
While family and friends back in Victoria are never far from his mind, Cole said his goal was to stay in WA.
"My fiancee Lily and I are pretty happy and settled over here, so it was an easy decision in the end,'' Cole said.
"Once the club came to me it was a pretty straightforward process."
Cole, who celebrates his 25th birthday on Saturday, hasn't played a game in 2022 after suffering a serious ankle injury at training in February.
"Coming out of contract at the end of this year I really wanted to put a good foot forward and have a good season,'' Cole said.
"It was disappointing with the ankle injury, but then very reassuring to be able to get it (contract) done.
"Now I can solely focus on my rehab and getting my ankle better and, hopefully, getting a few games in at the backend of the season.
"It's been 14 weeks since surgery and I've started running now. Hopefully, it progresses well over the next eight to 10 weeks.
"If my body pulls up fine I should be able to play towards the end of the year.
"If not, I'll be ready to go for pre-season."
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Cole said the rehabilitation process had been a frustrating one, particularly considering the Eagles have only won one game in 2022.
"I had a couple of soft tissue injuries in my first year, but I basically didn't have an injury for four-straight years.
"You want to be out there helping the boys anyway you can.
"As you get older at a footy club you naturally feel more responsible for the club's whole outlook.
"When you're young, you just want to get a game and you worry about yourself a bit more.
"It hurts to see the club struggling and I want to do anything I can to help.
"I try to be as positive as I can around the club and help the boys out."
The past four months have been a reality check for Cole, who has played 78 games in his seven seasons with the Eagles.
"The initial part of the rehab I was in a moon boat and on crutches, so I was at home for a fair bit,'' he said.
"I wasn't at the club a whole lot, so I've been ticking away on my uni degree (commerce) which I started seven years ago.
"I basically did anything I could to keep myself busy.
"(Team-mate) Campbell Chesser did his ankle at the same time as me, so I've been spending a fair bit of time with him.
"We're seven years apart in age, which baffles me a bit and makes me feel pretty old.
"I'm glad I started that commerce degree early, it would be shocking to start now."
The 2018 premiership player said not being able to get out on the park with his team-mates had put his footy career into perspective.
"An AFL season can be pretty grinding,'' he said.
"I went three-straight seasons without missing games or training and sometimes you complain about little things.
"Going through an injury like I have, it shows how much you miss the little things like banter with the boys, having snaps at goal or even just having a kick with them.
"It puts into perspective how good a job we have. It's made me a lot hungrier to make the most of the time I have (in the AFL)."
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