Geelong ruckman Rhys Stanley says he feels fresher this preseason than he has in years, as looks to reach his 200 game milestone in the first half of the season.
Stanley crossed from St.Kilda at the end of 2014 and has played 138 games with the Cats since, including as a member of the 2022 premiership team, but had an injury interrupted year last year, missing nine games to injury.
Speaking with Cats Media, the 33 year old ruckman said the one benefit of missing finals last season has meant the playing list is in ‘good space’ with Round 1 against the Saints a little over five weeks away.
“I guess, the silver lining from last year is that we've had a bit more time, so we obviously want to make finals every year but sometimes that's just not the way it falls, and for us, we try to find the silver lining in everything so, I feel like we're in a good space at the moment,” he said.
“Even for myself personally, not having surgery last year probably for the first time in a while, I'd say three or four years where I've always finished the season with something, so to be able to have a long run to this one has been pleasing.”
With close to full availability on the track across the summer, comes with it the opportunity to work on all things football, uncompromised, Stanley said.
“What did we have, 42 odd on the track over the last two weeks which is great,” he said.
“This time of the year it's really pleasing to have those numbers on the track, and it means we can get some decent sessions in too.
“We can work the competitive stuff; we can do the 18 v 18 rather than limited numbers and you sort of have to strip training back. So, it's been good, it's been a good block, we're going into a couple of days off and then a community camp next week so good time to reset.”
But while the match simulations are great, there’s nothing like the real thing.
“Looking forward to getting into it, looking forward to playing against someone that's not ourselves,” he said.
“This time of the year can be frustrating because you're doing match play against each other and we all know what we want to do and how we want to play so to play against opposition will be good.
“And just to have a crack on improving from last year, we don't want to finish there again, so trying to go over and above what we did last year.