Long lost Cat Daniel Menzel expects four seasons in the AFL wilderness to have made him a better player.
Menzel’s return to action last year after four knee reconstructions in as many years was the feel-good story of the season.
The 24-year-old is now in the middle of a notoriously taxing AFL pre-season and has every reason to believe he’ll prosper.
And this pre-season, he’s enjoying the company.
“I’m used to running around the outside of the oval on my own,” he said on Wednesday.
“To actually train every day … it is really difficult but to be with the full group, it doesn’t matter how difficult it is, it’s all worth it.”
The temptation might be to see his time on the sidelines as wasted but the forward doesn’t think so.
Instead, Menzel believes the lonely hours with the boundary line and barbells for friends have improved his AFL-readiness.
“There’s no reason why you can’t come back stronger and a more complete player,” he said.
“In my case (after) four years in the gym, you should be stronger.
“You should be more powerful, should be more athletic.
“The agility and the game sense will take time but there’s so many positives you can take out of it.”
Menzel certainly didn’t need much adjustment in his comeback game.
The No.10 was Geelong’s best in a loss to Collingwood that ended their finals hopes, kicking four goals and taking 20 touches.
He expects to play a couple of pre-season matches before embarking on a first full campaign since 2011.
Menzel said he still faces a “massive mental battle” along with his physical challenges.
“You can’t have four ACL reconstructions and come back completely perfect,” he said.
“Agility, tackling, I’m not where where I want to be … there’s absolutely a lot of areas to work on.”