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PERSISTENT injuries over the past two years brought a premature end to Taylor Hine’s professional football career.
Now the 24-year-old is looking to put his time in the medical room behind him and help Diggers Rest claim an elusive Riddell District Football League premiership.
Hine grew up in Sunbury and played his junior football with Rupertswood, but made the call to land at the Burras.
Hine’s father Trevor played tennis with Diggers Rest coach Shaun Sims and the link was quickly strengthened with a meeting over summer.
The marquee recruit has not disappointed, swiftly establishing himself as one of the competition’s prime movers in the midfield.
“Dad actually played tennis with Shaun a few years back so he put me in contact with Shaun and I caught up with him before the season started and he was great,” said Hine, who has been named in his team’s best seven times from 11 outings in 2016.
“We got along pretty well and that was that.”
With his body finally “feeling pretty good”, the Riddells Creek resident has been a class act for Diggers Rest this year.
“He’d be in the top couple of players in the competition without a doubt. He’s just a fantastic player,” Sims said of Hine. “He’s probably one of the tougher players I’ve seen play the game and his movement on his feet is as good as I’ve seen at local level. But he’s fantastic off the field as well. He’s got a lot of knowledge to pass on to our group which is great.”
Hine’s stint at AFL level started in 2011, when he was drafted as one of Gold Coast’s underage recruits.
After spending two seasons with the Suns, Hine found himself traded to North Melbourne ahead of the 2013 campaign and soon consolidated his spot in the Kangaroos’ line-up.
Having managed just nine AFL games in two seasons with the Suns, Hine played 14 matches for North Melbourne in 2013 to become one of the competition’s premier young taggers.
All was looking good for a big 2014.
Then the injuries came.
“I dislocated my shoulder early on in pre-season in my second year at North and then I tore my meniscus about four weeks out from the start of the year, so I missed the start of the year and that put me back a bit,” Hine said.
“Then from about midyear I had a stress fracture in my foot so I just never really got going, which was a bit disappointing.
“But it’s just how things go. There’s not much you can do about those types of injuries.”
Hine did not play a game for the Kangaroos in 2014 and was subsequently delisted at the end of the year.
He joined Williamstown for the 2015 VFL season, but still could not get his body right and played just two senior games for the Seagulls in a premiership year.
Frustrated, he made the decision to step back to local footy.
“At the end of the year I think I was at the stage where I was ready to give up on professional football and just get my body right and take a bit of time off,” Hine said.
Diggers Rest has not had luck on its side in recent seasons, losing the past three grand finals.
However, Hine said he had walked into a hungry group which he believed was capable of achieving the ultimate success this year.
“It’s obviously a long way off yet but we’re working hard and we’re making sure we’re trying to do all the right things,” he said.
“I think when we start to put full games together, we might be pretty scary.”
The Burras sit in top position with a perfect 11-0 record.
MEAT pies and football go hand-in-hand.