FORMER Swan Dean Towers is taking charge of one of grassroots football's best-kept secrets next year.
Towers' 57-game, six-season career at the highest level came to an end in October when he was one of four Sydney delistings, although he was keen to find a second AFL home.
Instead, the 28-year-old forward signed as AFL Sydney club University of NSW-Eastern Suburbs' playing coach, which will coincide with him pursuing an exercise physiology university degree.
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Towers will reunite with ex-teammate and close friend Brandon Jack at the Bulldogs and is hoping to lure freshly delisted Swans midfielder Jake Brown.
"I thought I had a bit more to give (in the AFL), hence why I put my hand up for a lifeline, but nothing eventuated," Towers told AFL.com.au.
"They were playing young guys ahead of me throughout most of the year, so it wasn't too much of a shock, but everything turned out pretty well.
"I'll be able to finish off uni in a couple of years and get to experience coaching while still playing, and my body's not too wrecked from playing AFL footy."
UNSW-Eastern Suburbs has produced eight AFL draftees in the past nine years, most recently top-10 pick Nick Blakey, but also All Australian Dane Rampe and 2014 Hawks premiership hero Will Langford.
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Midfielder Errol Gulden, the AFL Under-16 Championships' best and fairest in 2018, is also tracking to be a first-round selection – like Towers himself was in 2012 – in two years' time.
"They've had a few kids drafted out of there and they get a few of the (ex-AFL) talent coming back as well after they finish, so they're a pretty proud club," Towers said.
"I'm looking forward to getting down there and getting stuck into it and throwing myself in the deep end a bit with coaching.
"They won the premiership last season and their list is only getting stronger, so I definitely want to go for the premiership defence, for sure."
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As for his AFL career, Towers said he would be eternally grateful to Sydney for giving him an opportunity as a 22-year-old.
"It was just a great experience, and it will hold me in really good stead for the rest of my working life pretty much," he said.
"I met a lot of good people, got a lot of good contacts and I'm just very appreciative for the six years I had there."