Josh Hunt is hopeful to be right to go for preseason
Being isolated from the club was pretty hard as well, but I just had to rest. I had to get on top of it early, because it could've turned into some pretty nasty stuff if I had kept training and worked too hard
VETERAN Geelong defender Josh Hunt remains hopeful he will be fit enough to take part in the latter stages of the NAB Cup, but after a recent illness, he admits nothing is certain.
Hunt, who turns 31 in March, was diagnosed with glandular fever just after the Cats resumed training following the Christmas break.
The two-time premiership player subsequently spent two weeks away from the club – most of it on the couch – and only recently began tackling a restricted program.
"It has put me back a little bit, but it just means that I've got a bit of work to do to catch up and get back to where I should be or where I'd like to be," Hunt told geelongcats.com.au.
"What I'm doing at the moment is pretty much based on how I'm feeling.
"I had a quick conversation with 'Scotty' (Cats coach Chris Scott) the other day and I asked him what he thought about the NAB Cup.
"He said, 'I'm not putting any sort of deadline on you. I just want you to get out on the training track and get yourself right, then we'll go from there.'
"It's really hard to judge what will happen. I could feel good for a couple of weeks, go out there and go helter skelter, then it might flatten me again and I'll be back to taking time off.
"So I'd rather get myself right for when there's [premiership] points up for grabs.
"It's a real management thing, and a lot is in my lap. It's about me being honest with the coaches and the fitness staff about how I feel, and not worrying too much about whether I'll miss games."
Hunt first twigged that something was wrong while doing some training with Paul Chapman during the Christmas break.
"I got to the end of that and I started to feel a bit funny," he recalled. "I just had some pain in my shoulder, a bit of chest pain and I was getting dizzy.
"Then I felt a bit flat in the last training drill before our two-kilometre time-trial.
"I felt like I had no energy and was finding it difficult just to run around. I'd do a couple of efforts and then I was pretty spent.
"During the time-trial that I knew something wasn't right. I'm not the best runner at the best of times, but I didn't think I was that bad.
"On top of that my shoulder pain was getting pretty bad."
One of Geelong's club doctors decided that Hunt should have a blood test, and the results came back with a couple of surprises.
"I had glandular fever, but the fever had also done a few things to my spleen and liver, so that's was what caused my shoulder pain," Hunt said.
"It was nice to know what was making me feel like that, but it was pretty disappointing to hear that I had something that was going to keep me grounded for a while, which it has.
"It's the time of the year when you want to be out there training with the boys and learning all the new stuff and getting fit and getting ready for games. But I was stuck on the couch not being able to move.
"Being isolated from the club was pretty hard as well, but I just had to rest. I had to get on top of it early, because it could've turned into some pretty nasty stuff if I had kept training and worked too hard.
"So it has been very frustrating, and the timing couldn't be any worse, really."
Hunt dropped four kilograms during his period of rest, and having lost much of the aerobic fitness that he had built up before Christmas, he is now preparing to start his pre-season all over again.
"The game's not getting any easier, and running is a massive component of it, and to miss out on so much of the pre-season means I am coming from a long way back," Hunt said.
"But I can't change that now. It's just a matter of getting back out there, but also managing my workload.
"I want to be able to finish a whole session, which I haven't done yet, and I want to be able to feel good after that rather than finishing it and then needing to have a couple of days so my body can settle back down again.
"Once I can do that, then I can really start to make up some ground.
"But it's tough; the boys don't stop while I'm out of action, so they've been getting fitter and fitter, and so have the other teams and the other players, including those ones that I'll be playing on.
"So that's the hard battle. I'm just going to have to deal with that and do the best I can.
"If I can get back for the end of the NAB Cup that will be a good chance to get some match-fitness and build up my aerobic fitness.
"Hopefully I can get a game or two in there and find my legs again."