FORMER Essendon grand final hero Justin Blumfield is Cardiff's secret weapon as the Hawks try to get the better of Black Diamond AFL arch rivals Newcastle City this season.
The Blues have beaten the Hawks in successive grand finals, but the signing of Blumfield gives Cardiff star quality unmatched in the competition.
Blumfield, 32, moved to Newcastle three years ago to do his Master of Business and Administration degree and work for the GPT Group.
The former Bombers and Richmond midfielder might not have kicked a Sherrin in anger for three years, but he is excited about the first bounce of the ball against Lake Macquarie on April 10.
"I've had a few practice games just with inter-club trials, so I'm looking forward to round one and being right for that," Blumfield said.
"I've gone full circle. You start playing footy as a kid for fun and then you go off and play professionally, and I just thought I'd go back to have a good time."
Blumfield has conducted several training sessions with the Hawks in recent years due to his friendship with the club's first-grade assistant coach Noel McMahon.
He will continue to pass on his knowledge in his new playing role.
"There's a lot for the club to learn as far as structure and game style. Hopefully we can work a few of those things into the game this year, but we're keeping it pretty simple," he said.
The Tuggeranong junior made his AFL debut for the Bombers in 1996 and became the 1001st player to wear the famous black and red.
That year the club fell narrowly short of reaching the decider when the Sydney Swans won the preliminary final 10.10 (70) to 10.9 (69).
The Bombers again suffered a one-point loss in the preliminary final in 1999, this time to Carlton.
The following season was Blumfield's best.
He scored 27 goals in 24 matches as Essendon lost only one match all season and win the grand final by 60 points over Melbourne.
Blumfield fell just short of winning the Norm Smith Medal, beaten by Bombers great James Hird.
"It's our 10-year reunion this year from winning the premiership," Blumfield said.
"We have bit of a function on in July, so definitely that was one of the highlights for sure," Blumfield said.
"I suppose the journey to get to the premiership was difficult but it made it a lot more rewarding."
Blumfield was traded to Richmond in 2003, but after suffering knee and hip injuries left the Tigers when coach Terry Wallace opted for a youth policy.
Blumfield still keeps a keen eye on the AFL as a commentator for the ABC during Sydney's home games.