Bart leaps back

Bart McCulloch

Bart McCulloch

NORTH Launceston and ruckman-forward Bart McCulloch have agreed to terms, which will see the former South Launceston premiership player pull on a red and black jumper in 2017.

McCulloch, 26, met with Launceston coach Sam Lonergan and new Bombers coach Tom Couch before making the decision on his return to State League football.

The 2008 Brisbane Lions recruit sat out the entire 2016 season to recover from a knee reconstruction after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in mid-2015.

“I was extremely impressed by both coaches and I think Sam will do an excellent job at Launceston in the next couple of seasons,” he said on Tuesday.

“The couple of things for me (behind the decision) was convenience, (UTas Stadium) is closer from work and the big thing was where North’s list is at.

“Launceston have got a lot of young talent in the Marriners program… but where North’s list is at today they’ve got a few more experienced campaigners that play good seniors footy. Bringing in Tom is a good move, I think they will be thereabouts again and for mine I want to play somewhere that is going to have some success.”

McCulloch will work with fellow North big man Alex Lee to try and fill the void left by departed 2014 Alastair Lynch, Darrel Baldock and premiership medalist Daniel Roozendaal.

The 198-centimetre ex-Western Storm tall will likely rotate through the ruck and up forward for the 2016 TSL runners-up. He has been back in training for the past six months, spending one or two nights a week with South Launceston.

McCulloch said he was confident his knee would hold out and that a round one return was on the cards.

“The knee has been excellent, I haven’t rushed it, it has been 18 months since I did it and everything has progressed very well,” he said.

“I’m feeling confident in it, it’s feeling strong.”

The agribusiness manager said the hardest part of his recovery had been finding the time and making the commitment to continue on with his rehabilitation. 

He said it had been a long and lonely process at times.

“Week in, week out actually doing the exercises even though you are so far away from playing is difficult,” he said.

North Launceston said in a statement on social media: “the club welcomes Bart and looks forward to our younger players interacting with him and learning from him”.

“Bart's experience and knowledge will be a great asset for our younger players,” it said. 

McCulloch spent three injury-plagued seasons on the Lions’ AFL list but did not play a match.