Werribee has enticed one of the VFL’s most highly regarded journeymen back to where it all began by signing Ben Moloney for season 2018.
The 26-year-old veteran of 89 VFL games has returned to Avalon Airport Oval after a five-year stint with Collingwood and Geelong, during which he established himself as one of the competition’s premier inside midfielders.
Moloney said he was excited to return to his original VFL club for its first season as a standalone VFL outfit in 19 years and described the feeling as “surreal”.
“I’ve never played at a standalone club, and I had a chat with [senior coach] John Lamont and knew [captain Michael] Sodomaco and those sorts of blokes and thought it was a good opportunity to jump at,” he said.
“There may not have been an opportunity at Geelong for me, so I just wanted to make the most of the time while I’ve got it.
“[Werribee CEO] Mark Penaluna and those sorts of blokes gave me the opportunity way back then, and now I hope I can reward them with some good footy and bring my experience to the table.”
Moloney first joined Werribee in 2010 by way of the Geelong Falcons TAC Cup program, playing 11 senior games in his three seasons at the club and winning back-to-back AFL Victoria Development League best-and-fairest awards in 2011 and 2012.
He joined the Magpies in 2013 in search of further opportunities and grabbed them with both hands, his 66-game tenure at the club netting a 2015 club best and fairest, 2015 VFL Team of the Year honours, and a vice-captaincy.
A broken leg hampered his move to Geelong in 2017, but he nonetheless managed 12 senior games and also had the opportunity to play a starring role alongside fellow Werribee recruits Brenton Rees and Ben McNamara in a maiden senior premiership with local Geelong Football League club St Joseph’s.
Moloney said he was looking forward to the chance to reunite with his grand-final-winning teammates and to using his experience to help develop Werribee’s young list.
“It’s nice to have those blokes who you know and have a connection with and to have a couple of premiership teammates in Benny and ‘Reesy’. It’s really good,” he said.
“There are a lot of young players here, and I’d like to use a bit of my experience to help them.
“It might be their first or second year, and this is my ninth year, and I want them to all be able to play for eight or nine years and make the most of their VFL opportunity while they’ve got it.
“You can go back to local footy and probably be one of the better players, or you can test yourself at this level, and I think that’s what a lot of blokes need to strive to do.”
Lamont said he was “rapt” to have Moloney return to the club and that the hard-running on-baller would provide a huge boost to Werribee’s midfield stocks.
“He’s thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with the club and a number of players, and we’re really confident that he’s going to be a real leader and role model in our midfield,” said Lamont.
“If everything goes to plan, he’ll play his 100th game this year, so for a player like Dom Brew to be learning a bit from Benny Moloney on how to go about it, it’s just going to give us that extra depth through the middle of the ground that we so desperately need.”
Werribee players officially announced for 2018
Michael Sodomaco (C)