GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 01: Joel Wilkinson of the Suns kicks during the round 23 AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Greater Western Sydney Giants at Metricon Stadium on September 1, 2013 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Former Sun wants another crack at AFL following NFL stint

Former Gold Coast Suns player Joel Wilkinson says he is ready for another shot at the AFL, following a crack at the NFL in America.

Wilkinson played 26 games for the Suns between 2011 and 2013, before joining the Northern Blues after being delisted the Suns.

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The 24-year-old left the Blues at the end of 2015, to pursue a career in the NFL.

He was signed by the Arizona Cardinals as a cornerback, but after five months of training was cut by the club in May this year. Despite attracting interest from several rival NFL franchises, he was forced to return home due to visa circumstances.

Wilkinson says following his stint in America, he has comeback refreshed and in a great position physically and mentally for another crack at the AFL.

“I literally trained at the best facilities with the best coaches in the world, among the best sportspeople in America, learning techniques and movement that are very similar and directly correlate to a lot of AFL patterns,” Wilkinson told AFL.com.au.

“Everything you assume about the NFL and the intensity is true.

“My cutting and explosiveness from cornerback allow me to move in ways that I know isn’t trained often in Australia. Route running and pattern are very similar to forward and midfield patterns in AFL.

“In regards to what I was at the end of playing AFL/VFL [in 2015] to now, I laugh at how much more improved I am compared to then. It can’t be underestimated what being with the best athletes in the toughest sporting environment has done for me.”

The former Sun says that upon his return home, he has “a strong feeling of unfinished business and, more importantly, untapped potential”.

“I know that what I’m doing is having to create a frontier and there can be a subjective case of ‘Can he play now?’” Wilkinson said.

“But I’d like to think that in my sporting career I’ve shown my coach ability to learn quickly, as evident with my NFL signing and playing AFL with minimal experience. A lot of my development has already been done for clubs, now I’m in my prime.”

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