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Jennifer Phelan  February 27, 2013 8:31 AM

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Ray Chamberlain returns to umpiring this weekend after a long lay-off

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COLOURFUL umpire Ray Chamberlain is set to make his return this weekend after missing all of last season with a knee injury.

Chamberlain will officiate in a NAB Cup match this weekend, more than 16 months since he made his last appearance in the International Rules series in October, 2011.

Chamberlain had knee surgery the following February and was expected to miss 10 weeks but was plagued by inflammation for the rest of the year.  

"He's had a good pre-season. He's back up and running and in action this weekend so he'll have his first hit-out in over probably 16 months now," new umpire and former St Kilda player Leigh Fisher told SEN on Wednesday morning.

Fisher will umpire in the same game as Chamberlain - the League's most recognisable on-field official - and said he had been a good mentor to the ex-Saint as he made the transition from player to umpire.

"Ray's been really good for me, he doesn't live far away and we always catch up for a coffee and a bit of a chat," Fisher said.

"Over the last 12 months especially with him being out of the game, he's been a bit of a mentor of mine so he's been great value."

Fisher umpired in the VFL last year after he ended his 55-game playing career in 2008.

He made his AFL debut on Friday night in the Melbourne-North Melbourne-Richmond NAB Cup games at Etihad Stadium, and officiated with fellow former player and second-year AFL umpire Jordan Bannister.

"It's my third year now umpiring so I've been building up over the three years to get to that point so it was more just the anticipation of wanting to get out there," Fisher said.

"Being able to stay involved at the highest level is a positive and I've loved my last three years."

Fisher said Brent Wallace, son of Terry and former Box Hill player, had started the program and would umpire in the VFL this year.