I wasn’t sure if I would ever get another chance in the AFL.

I was a latecomer to footy; I didn’t really start playing until I was 18, when my football journey began with South Adelaide Football Club.

The club was deep in my blood though with Dad and his twin brother playing through the 70’s and 80’s. I loved it.

Every game really meant something. After not playing footy through my teenage years from the first game I knew it was the way to go.

It all began in 2009 through the under 18’s before graduating to the senior program before the end of the season and plenty of reserves games, eventually playing my first league game in 2010.

Basketball was always my first love. Growing up, that was my main sport of choice. I always enjoyed playing any sport as a kid growing up in Adelaide, but put me in front of a TV with a game of basketball, and I wouldn’t move.

In many ways, I have basketball to thank for getting me to the AFL.

Being a latecomer to the sport, I never possessed the same level of skill and talent you get from hours of repetition as the rest of my teammates.

But what I felt I had the most of, every time I walked into the locker room, was a competitive streak that held me in good stead.

I hate losing, probably always have. Ever since I was a kid, if I saw a basketball court, video game console or deck of uno cards – I always thought I could win and I always wanted to win.

But playing basketball certainly helped. A number of gameplay skills are transferable and I’ve always felt relatively comfortable both in the air and at ground level on a footy field, and given the constant jumping nature of basketball, my aerial work has never been too bad either.

When I came to South Adelaide, by virtue of being one of the tallest I was thrown in the ruck. It took awhile to learn the craft, but over time I found a way to compete and use my strengths to my advantage. Despite the “undersized” label, I relished the competition and challenge each game to outwork and beat my opposing player.

So my first six years playing footy was at the South Adelaide Football Club. But by the end of 2014, everything changed.

I remember Dom Ambrogio and Scott Clayton, former recruiting and list managers at the Gold Coast Suns, called me prior to the rookie draft and said if I was still available, the club would be interested taking me with one of their later picks.

And so it happened… with the 42nd overall selection in the 2015 AFL Rookie Draft, I was taken by the Gold Coast Suns.

I enjoyed three incredible years in Queensland, and owe a lot to the Gold Coast Football Club for taking a chance on me.

List management decisions, personnel changes and one of the worst injuries periods in AFL history made for a difficult set of circumstances and ultimately I wasn’t able to make the impact I wanted.

I felt I had something to offer, but unfortunately in the end, it simply wasn’t to be. I was delisted at the end of the 2017 Season, and for me I had some really tough decisions to make.

Keegan Brooksby AFL exclusive insight 3

Do I continue on with trying to play footy at the highest level, or do I start looking at longer-term career options? That decision weighed quite heavily on my mind for a while after my ties ended on the Gold Coast.

I decided to move back to Adelaide to be closer to family and friends, which proved important to me, but I thought if footy was to be a key constant in my life, than I needed to be back in the SANFL.

Keegan Brooksby AFL exclusive insight 3

From what I have seen, I believe the SANFL is the strongest competition outside of the AFL.

If I wanted to give myself the best possible shot at another chance in the AFL or to just play at the highest level I was capable of then I felt the SANFL was the competition for me.

For me, it made a lot of sense to return home to the South Adelaide Football Club. I love the club and left with unfinished business at the end of 2014. After a variety of roles week to week at the Suns I was also looking forward to getting back to my traditional ruck role.

Playing at Gold Coast through necessity I expanded from playing solely ruck to filling roles down back for the first time in my career and then, at times, around goals. I enjoyed the challenge of these new and foreign positions and was happy to do anything and everything to play and compete at the highest level.

With this happening it definitely is hard to build much consistency and find a specific role to make your own.

The experience certainly improved my all around football ability, understanding and skillset though and challenged me in ways that I had never encountered footy wise before.

Now that I have had a go of it, been out of the AFL system for a year, I cant wait to get that taste back.

Funnily enough Scott Clayton pops back again, this time in a new role with the West Coast Eagles, once again asking the same questions he asked 4 years earlier.

As a 28-year-old I wasn’t sure if I would ever get another chance in the AFL. But football is a funny place and here I am ready to have another crack in 2019.

I can’t wait to get to the West Coast Eagles.

Keegan Brooksby

I’m so thankful that they have given me a chance to return to the AFL, and honestly, I couldn’t have dreamed for a better situation to continue my journey to be the best player I can be.

I am walking into a premiership-winning culture; I don’t plan on taking that for granted.

I just want to train and play as hard as I can, and the best I can, and get the most out of myself.

In 20 years time, I don’t want to look back and go, “I wish I’d tried a bit harder, I could’ve worked smarter, I couldn’t been that…”.

Could have, should have, would have.

I know I need to give 100% effort at every turn. So whether it’s on the training field, at a weight session or at recovery, I need to be doing everything I can and more.

Everyone I’ve spoken to at West Coast so far has just been so impressive. There’s just a vibe that everyone is there to achieve success and be the best in the game.

I’ve been in the AFL, I know how hard you have to work and I equally know how hard it is on the outside looking back in.

I’m incredibly proud to earn another shot – and I owe a lot also to the South Adelaide Football Club and everyone involved for helping me get back to the AFL.

It’s been on the back of a lot of hard work, but the reality is I know the hard work is only just beginning.

Time to get over to Perth, on December 1st, walk in giving 100% of myself to the club and the game, who knows when or where the journey ends, all you can ever do is walk away and look back knowing you made the most of every opportunity and got the most out of yourself as possible.

No regrets.