Former co-captain Jack Trengove has added to the excitement at Melbourne on the eve of their AFL season with a significant milestone in his comeback.
Trengove played in an intraclub hitout on Friday for the Demons’ VFL affiliates Casey.
It was the first time he had played in any sort of match, at any level, since suffering a serious foot injury two rounds into the 2014 AFL season.
The navicular bone fracture nearly ended Trengove’s career, but he could play in Casey’s trial match against Box Hill next week.
One of the most popular figures at the Demons is daring to dream – with growing confidence – of an AFL comeback.
Casey had their intraclub trial a day before the Demons start their season by hosting GWS at the MCG.
The Demons are brimming with confidence after winning all three pre-season matches.
“The dream is certainly to get back out on the ‘G and it’s certainly a really exciting place to be around at the moment,” Trengove said after Friday’s session.
“The boys have shown a lot in the NAB Challenge and I just want to make sure I can put myself out there and get back amongst the group, to be a part of it.
“I don’t want to miss out.”
Trengove admits he is starting to see light at the end of the tunnel after his injury hell.
He joked that returning to the AFL is something he thinks about every night before going to bed.
“It is one of those things, that right from the outset (when) you get a long-term injury, one thing you can lose sight of is playing again – believing in yourself,” he said.
“I’m certainly starting to believe more and more with each session I tick off now.
“It (Friday) was great … there was a bit of a match-simulation component to it at the end, so it’s nice to get out there.”
Trengove said Friday was a small stepping stone and is unsure when he might be ready for an AFL recall.
But he is thinking less about his foot with every step in his comeback.
“It’s always going to be a mental battle, but once the ball’s involved now I don’t even think about it,” he said.
“You play on instinct and that instinct has taken a while to get back because it has been two years.
“Every session I do, I get more and more confident.”
Melbourne’s No.4 draft pick Clayton Oliver will make AFL debut, while recruits Tom Bugg (GWS) and Ben Kennedy (Collingwood) will also play their first games for the Demons.
Former Geelong star Steve Johnson will also play his first game as a Giant.
Melbourne will start slight favourites, with GWS missing key forward Jeremy Cameron as he starts a four-game suspension.