YOU’RE quickly reminded of just how brutal this game can be when a player tells you that their number one aim is to start pre-season training.
In the case of versatile small Neville Jetta, that was exactly his objective entering this pre-season.
“My first goal was to start pre-season on day one. I had no off season surgery, so I was able to do that,” he told melbournefc.com.au.
“I started day one and I felt a bit like a new draftee. My goal was to make it to Christmas and I did that, so I was pretty happy I was able to complete that and do everything.
“I had the odd moment when the fitness staff held me back, but other than that I was pretty stoked to get through that.”
Jetta, who was drafted at No. 51 in the 2008 NAB AFL Draft, has played 36 matches since making his debut in round one, 2009.
But after playing 15 matches in his first year, the Western Australian has made just 21 appearances in the past three seasons, as injuries have hampered his career.
It wasn’t until June 30 last year, when Jetta played for Casey in the VFL, that he made his first appearance for the season. Yet, just three weeks later, he was back in the Melbourne side, playing against Port Adelaide at TIO Stadium in Darwin. He managed to play six of the final seven rounds, only missing round 19 against Gold Coast Suns through suspension.
“Last off season in 2011, I had a shoulder operation that I was recovering from until after Christmas,” Jetta said.
“I wasn’t able to train with the group until January 2012, so I missed the first three to four months. Then I trained right up until NAB Cup and played one game with Casey, but then did my ankle, which held me out until round 14.
“So I had lost my fitness that I’d built on.”
Despite his tough 2012, Jetta said he gained a much needed boost from the Mark Neeld-led coaching staff.
“They’ve been pretty positive. They like the way I play, which is contested and hard at the footy, so that’s good for me and the footy club,” he said.
“It was hard to find confidence with your body. My ankle was stiff after the surgery, so getting back on the track was the hardest thing. But once I did that and I got a few VFL games under my belt, I felt pretty confident.
“I was then lucky enough to get back into the team. I played a few AFL games and was able to show the coaches a little bit of myself, without full fitness. But I’m building on it this pre-season.”
Jetta acknowledged he was a bit anxious about the upcoming season, but he was optimistic he could show his wares, given an injury free run.
“I feel a bit nervous, but I’m confident in my body that I can do the rest of the training. My next goal is to get to the intra-club game and then the NAB Cup. From there, I’ll set some new goals, but I want to get through that first,” he said.
“My body is feeling really good at the moment. I try not to look that far ahead, but I’ve got mini goals that I want to reach first, although I don’t want to add any extra pressure on myself.
“With all the injuries I’ve had, I’ve still got to prove myself, so 2013 is a big year for me, but I’m really looking forward to it.”