The leader of the pack is back for the Werribee Tigers.

The Tigers have secured the important signature of captain Michael Sodomaco to lead their journey back into a stand-alone existence in the Victorian Football League.

The 26-year-old spoke with passion and excitement about the Tigers’ future at the club’s presentation night recently, so it seemed a mere formality that he would return to the club for an eighth season.

Sodomaco officially penned his contract extension last week, a relief for a club that will need its experienced players to stand up.

“I’ve been here now for seven years and am going into my eighth, so it’s just under a third of my life,” Sodomaco said.

“It’s the only senior club I’ve played for – it’s my club and it’s where I want to play.”

A breath of fresh air swept through Werribee when the final siren sounded on the 2017 season. The Tigers ended their alignment with AFL club North Melbourne and dropped the Travelling Tigers tag as they prepared to move back to Avalon Airport Oval, which is undergoing a multi-million dollar redevelopment.

“It’s funny – it feels a little bit like going into my first year as captain,” Sodomaco said.

“We’ve been an aligned footy club in the past and it’s been an honour to captain that, but this is the first year where we’re our own club.

“We’ve got full control over our identity and destiny, so it’s very exciting.”

Sodomaco is the third Werribee player to commit to the club for next season. He followed club best-and-fairest Matt Hanson and exciting youngster Max Augerinos. Talks with the rest of the required players are in advanced stages.

“I’ll be shocked if anyone wanted to leave, to be honest,” Sodomaco said.

“With every conversation I’ve had so far, that’s been the case, so I think we’ll have a strong core from last year and hopefully then get a few experienced recruits to top up.”

Werribee coach John Lamont is understandably chuffed to have his captain back on board. Lamont felt like it was a fait accompli that Sodomaco would return, but the signature quashed the whispers that he could return down the highway to play local football in Geelong.

“We knew he was going to return, but it’s great to have the paperwork done,” Lamont said. “He’s just getting better and better as a captain with what he brings, on and off the field, the training standards he sets and his ability to galvanise the group.

“The other thing, though, is that he’s a damn good player. We really missed him when he was out injured, and already he’s booked in to catch up with [high-performance manager] Simon Anning with the view to making sure he plays 20 games for us next year.”

Sodomaco has played 65 games, mainly as a small defender and pinch hit midfielder, and kicked 18 goals since he arrived out of the Geelong Falcons TAC Cup program.

The Lara Football Club product was promoted to the leadership group in 2014 before he took the reins as captain a year later.