Not for the first time, the Brisbane Lions owe a debt of gratitude to motor-mouthed former great Jason Akermanis.
A trimmer, fitter Allen Christensen is poised to become a major contributor for the Lions this year after a flawless AFL pre-season, and he has Akermanis to thank for the motivation.
Outspoken triple-premiership player Akermanis attacked Christensen and teammate Josh Green last season, slamming the pair for being overweight and suggesting they weren’t working hard enough on the training paddock.
It appears Akermanis’ criticism cut deeper than a dismissive Christensen initially let on at the time.
Now, Christensen is 5kg lighter, moving better than he ever has before and says he can already feel the difference in practice matches.
“I’ve had probably the best pre-season I’ve ever had. I’ve hardly missed a beat,” Christensen told reporters on Wednesday.
“I’ve dropped four or five kilos from last year so hopefully I won’t be getting potted by Jason Akermanis this year.
“Looking back on it now, I probably wasn’t in the greatest shape last year.
“My output was okay, but I’m looking forward to taking another step up this year.”
Christensen said he was genuinely upset by Akermanis’ comments.
“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt me a little bit,” he said.
“All I wanted to do was go out there and try and play my best footy.
“It is what it is, the media’s there to do that.
“It doesn’t bother me, it’s in the past now. Hopefully I can prove a few people wrong this year.”
Christensen, who was traded to Brisbane at the end of the 2014 season, sat out the Lions’ first NAB Challenge match against the Gold Coast Suns last weekend but is poised for a run when they face St Kilda in Mackay next weekend.
The former Geelong star’s first pre-season in Brisbane was hampered by back surgery, which meant he wasn’t able to run properly until after Christmas.
“I probably didn’t realise how hard it would actually be for me. Getting that few months of training in this year is going to be a big difference,” Christensen said.