Fremantle ruckman Aaron Sandilands has no concerns about making his AFL return against the man who broke his ribs, but he will consider wearing a guard just in case.
He spent almost a week in hospital after suffering several broken ribs and a punctured lung while backing into a marking contest against Eagles big man Nic Naitanui in round three.
The injury was so severe, Sandilands underwent surgery to insert two metal plates into his rib cage. Those plates will stay there for life.
He has been back in full training for several weeks and will return in Sunday’s western derby against West Coast.
Coincidentally, Naitanui will also make his return this weekend after missing the past six matches following surgery to remove the plantaris tendon from both legs.
Sandilands insists he won’t be carrying any mental scars when he goes up against Naitanui again.
“Not at all – I’ve had enough time to recover. The body feels good,” Sandilands said on Tuesday.
“It was a one-off accident. I’m happy with where I’m at.
“This is the week that I’m ready to come back and play, and it didn’t matter whoever the side was.
“I’ve had plenty of contact within that area and they wouldn’t let me back out there unless (the ribs) were 100 per cent right.”
Sandilands has trained with a guard on his rib cage, but he might not need it on game day.
“I’m still undecided at the moment. So we’ll talk with the doc and the physio this week about that,” Sandilands said.
Fremantle are languishing in 16th spot with just three wins to show from 18 games.
With the team clearly in rebuilding mode and no chance to make the finals, some fans think it would be best to put Sandilands in cotton wool until next year.
But the 33-year-old says there’s plenty to gain for him by playing again this season – and his wife has been eager to see him back out on the field, too.
“She’s happy I’m getting back out there, and (won’t be) so edgy and grumpy at home,” Sandilands joked.
“I’ve got Jen’s full support. She’s just happy I’m doing something I love.
“You hate sitting on the sidelines and I was always pretty confident of getting back this year.”
Sandilands remains one of Fremantle’s most-important players, with his injury absence exposing the club’s lack of ruck depth.
Jon Griffin, Zac Clarke and Jack Hannath all struggled to fill the void, with Lyon describing the situation as a “moving famine”.