Mid-season recruitment shock as former captain returns to Canberra

By Jessica Webster/NEAFL Media

Canberra has pulled off a mid-season recruiting coup with former co-captain Jordan Harper making a stunning return to club.

Jordan Harper celebrates a goal for Canberra in 2017. Photo: TJ Yelds/NEAFL.

Harper, 25, established himself as one of the best players in the NEAFL before departing at the end of the 2017 season to join VFL club North Melbourne.

The classy midfielder had his transfer confirmed yesterday and will play out the remainder of the season with the Demons – starting with this Saturday night’s crunch clash against NT Thunder in Darwin.

“I’ve loved every minute at North, but on the field it wasn’t really working out, and to be closer to home is another reason why I wanted to move,” he told neafl.com.au.

“Contributing to a club like Canberra, I suppose I can make a bigger impact not only on the field, but hopefully off the field and get back to really loving my footy, and enjoying playing again.

“I reckon I’ll definitely be nervous in that first quarter. I can’t wait to get the Canberra guernsey back on, and wearing it with pride and honour.”

Harper debuted at age 16 for Belconnen in the inaugural NEAFL season in 2011, and quickly built a reputation as one of the competition’s elite, which included winning the NEAFL Goal of the Year in 2014.

He joined Canberra as a foundation player in the club’s inaugural NEAFL season in 2016, where he created history as the the region’s first 100-game NEAFL player, and the club’s first ever best-and-fairest winner.

The following season, Harper earned his second NEAFL Team of the Year honour and won a second consecutive best-and-fairest.

Canberra General Manager of Football, Shaun Young, said the club was thrilled to have Harper back.

“To have a person and player of Jordan’s calibre come back to the club at this stage of the season is extremely exciting, and one that we are ecstatic with as we build towards the middle to back half of the year,” he said.

“Jordan will not only bring his pure football ability to the group, but also his leadership qualities and football knowledge which we have no doubt will add value to our aspirations for season 2019.

“We are not expecting Jordan to be the sole player that we rely on in terms of winning games, it is still going to take our whole playing group to achieve what we set out to do at the start of the season.

“Having Jordan return to the club not only says a lot about how strongly Jordan feels about the club, but also how strongly the club feels about Jordan.”

His return has come at an opportune time for the eighth-placed Demons, who will be fighting to return to the top six when they take on NT Thunder this week.

Watching the side from afar the past two seasons, Harper said the club has come a long way, and he hopes to be a part of their success in the future.

“They’ve definitely improved under Kade. I think they’ve got quality people in there… I cant wait to be a part of that for sure,” he said.

“Contributing on and off the field is my main goal, and really looking after the young guys and mentoring them through in what’s hopefully going to be another finals campaign come September, which would be unreal.”

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