AFL

Geelong's Daniel Menzel is ready to go

After starring on his return to football after a four-year absence, Geelong's Daniel Menzel says his main goal in 2016 is to be available to play consistently.  

Menzel, who has had four knee reconstructions, finally returned late last season against Collingwood, having not played a senior match since the 2011 qualifying final.

Menzel, 24, said on Wednesday he was targeting the Cats' first-round clash against Hawthorn, having put in a solid pre-season with the full squad and not the rehabilitation group. 

"Yes, it's been really different," he told the club's website. "I actually got a break away, which was really good in the off-season and I guess mentally it was really refreshing because I finally got back and played. I didn't go into the pre-season thinking 'well maybe next year' and I could actually look ahead and get excited for 2016. 

"To an extent I do. It's one of the best things, waking up every day and I look at the club when I go in there and I fill out my wellness and it says 'Daniel Menzel full train'. It's one thing I look at and it makes me smile because for a long time I didn't have that. Absolutely I'll never take that for granted and, at the same time, I still need to do a lot of things to make sure that my knee's still right and to make sure my body holds up. 

"I'm used to running around the outside of the oval on my own so to actually train every day ... to be with the full group every day it doesn't matter how hard the running or how difficult it is, it is all worth it. 

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Menzel said his injuries still needed careful  management, but he hoped that over time he would get back to full strength. 

"It's still a management thing. It's something I hope is not with me for the rest of my career, but it definitely will be for the next year. It's an adaptation thing, it's going to take a bit of time. The more training I get in, the more continuity, the better it will feel. So, every single session  I speak to the physios, I speak to the  fitness staff and the coaches about how it is and we've planned ahead to go 'oh, we might miss a training sessions here and there' and keep on top of it. 

"Whether it's one, two, three or four ACLs, there is no reason that you can't come back stronger and a more complete player. You've got, in my case, four years in the gym. You should be stronger, you should be more powerful, you should be more athletic. Sure, the agility and the game sense thing will take time, but there are so many positives you can get out of it."

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