Fan favourite Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti will return to Essendon for the 2023 season, backflipping on his retirement decision made earlier this year.
He will link up with new senior coach Brad Scott on a one-year deal.
The 29-year-old last played an AFL match in Round 21, 2021, before he went on to take personal leave from the Bombers.
He then announced his retirement from the game following a string of games in the VFL.
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In a club statement on Thursday afternoon, Essendon confirmed the return of the goalsneak.
“We are thrilled that Anthony has decided to come back to the Bombers,” General Manager of Football Josh Mahoney said.
“Anthony took time away from the club in 2022 to focus on life outside of footy. We’re comfortable he has taken the time he needs to bring a renewed enthusiasm to return to the AFL and play for Essendon.
“He is a committed Essendon person who loves playing football and our conversations with Anthony recently led us to believe there was a realistic chance he would come back to Essendon.
“Once we knew he was keen to return we worked with the AFL on the right pathway back to the club including approval from a list management perspective.
“We will continue to support him on and off the field and assist in his quest to return to football.
“We acknowledge a lot of hard work is ahead but feel confident he can achieve his football ambitions and goals at the club he loves.”
The story continues. pic.twitter.com/MdGsWjU3iu
— Essendon FC (@essendonfc) November 10, 2022
Known as ‘Walla’ by fans, McDonald-Tipungwuti is expected to return to pre-season in the coming weeks.
Having first joined the Bombers in 2016, the forward has so far played 126 games for the club, scoring 153 goals.
In July 2020 he claimed the record for most consecutive games played for Essendon in the AFL era with 115 matches, before picking up the team’s goalkicking award the same year.
He now returns to the club that gave him his first chance, and where he burst onto the scene amid Essendon’s supplements saga.
After announcing his initial retirement in May, he showed his appreciation to the club for allowing him to spend time away from the game.
“I have loved my time at the club and I am so proud of what I have been able to achieve in my AFL career,” McDonald-Tipungwuti said.
“I am also proud of my education. Coming to Victoria was to pursue my education and that has been really important for me too.”
Players who retire typically are not permitted to join a new club for 18 months.
However, because McDonald-Tipungwuti was not officially delisted by the Bombers, he is able to immediately rejoin Essendon after AFL approval.