AFL

Magpie Ben Reid hoping the year of the monkey gets the injury monkey off his back

Ben Reid surely can't wait for the time when the majority of his media interviews are not filled by questions about injuries.

Hopefully at some point the conversation surrounding the Collingwood star will turn from what he will do, to what he has done, for Nathan Buckley and his team.

On your marks: Collingwood defender Ben Reid and 2012 Stawell Gift winner Matthew Willis in Stawell on Tuesday.
On your marks: Collingwood defender Ben Reid and 2012 Stawell Gift winner Matthew Willis in Stawell on Tuesday. Photo: Samantha Camarri

When that time comes, a sense of normality will return to Reid's football life, for it has been two long, frustrating years since the 26-year-old pursued a season like the rest of his injury-free teammates.

To some degree, Reid has enjoyed a "normal" football existence since his return to AFL in round 19 last year.

He has completed 90 per cent of this pre-season, only missing sessions as a precaution, rather than management of any specific soft-tissue problem.

In a sense, Reid has stepped out before he has broken down.

Advertisement

But that small modifier aside, Reid is back – and although he knows better than to get his hopes too high at this stage of the year – the athletic key defender is basically 100 per cent.

"If there was a game this week I would be able to play, so I'm right to go," Reid said with conviction on Tuesday at the club's community camp in Stawell.

"The games are just around the corner, so I'm really looking forward to that and fingers crossed I can have a bit more luck this year."

Indeed, however 2015 wasn't a total loss, given Reid returned to play in the last five games of the season.

"The last two or three games, in particular, I started to feel really comfortable out there and really confident in my body," he said.

"When the season ended, it probably felt like it had just begun for me, so I couldn't wait to get back into pre-season."

In that respect, Reid's journey has mirrored that of Carlton star Matthew Kreuzer, who revealed a similar sentiment in an interview with Fairfax Media in December.

And like Blues fans hoping for a solid return from their star ruckman this season, there would be some Pies supporters thinking that even half a year out of Reid in 2016 would be a good result.

But that's not how Reid sees it. Not at all.

"There is no reason why I can't play every game", the talented swingman said, again indicative of his return to a more conventional outlook.

When he does play this year, you can expect the term "swingman" to be used less and less where Reid is concerned.

At least for now, Buckley has him set as a key post in the backline, reuniting with fellow leader Nathan Brown.

Reid thinks that's where he plays his best football and he has enjoyed the chance to train the entire pre-season with the defensive group.

Reid and Brown holding the backline together like they did during the club's 2010 premiership year would go a long way to Collingwood achieving their stated goal this year – one that Reid reiterated unambiguously on Tuesday.

"I think we have to play finals this year," he said.

"We have missed the last couple of years which has been really disappointing.

"It's been hard, for myself, sitting back and not playing too many games and watching the club tail away in the back end of those years."

Buckley's contract status – he is secure until the end of 2016 – has been a talking point in recent days but Reid did not comment on any proposed new deal.

However he did say that Buckley had continued to grow as a coach.

"And this year has been really noticeable, I think he is interacting with the boys as well as he ever has," Reid said.

"He has always been really good at that, but I think he's just gone a step further and everything he is bringing to the club has been really positive."