Former Collingwood midfielder Jay Rantall will return to the VFL in 2023 after signing with Western Bulldogs affiliate club Footscray.

Rantall, who played five games in the black and white before being delisted at the end of 2021, has since plied his trade in the SANFL with Norwood where he was a key figure in their premiership run.

The 21-year-old would average 22.7 disposals, 5.0 tackles, 3.1 clearances and 3.1 inside 50s per game from his 21 appearances in the Redlegs' senior side as they claimed the SANFL title with a one-point win over North Adelaide in the season decider.

Despite the strong season in South Australia, Rantall has since returned to his home state of Victoria, where he has linked up with Footscray for the year ahead.

Rantall last featured in the VFL during his final year at Collingwood, playing six games that season before it was abruptly cut short due to COVID complications.

Speaking to The StandardRantall said he's keen to be back playing football closer to home.

"It was an easy decision in the end," the former Magpie said on signing with Footscray.

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"They have looked after me well so far so I am excited to get stuck into it.

"I don't really have any expectations on it because it is an affiliated side but I do know the AFL do take priority in developing their players.

"I want to play as a bit of a midfielder but to be honest I just want to play footy and am looking forward to just playing at the highest level I can."

Footscray are understood to have swooped on two of Rantall's former Collingwood teammates in recently delisted pair Tyler Brown and Caleb Poulter, per reports from The Age. 

The Bulldogs managed nine wins and as many losses from their 18 matches in the VFL last season, recording an 11th-placed finish to 2022.

The AFL have confirmed the VFL season will commence on the weekend of March 25-26, with 21 teams to compete in the second-tier competition.