FORMER rookie Michael Evans says he is determined to repay the club for having the belief that he has what it takes to make it at the highest level, after it upgraded him to the primary list for 2013.
The 20 year-old, now entering his third season with Melbourne, has had a frustrating run with hip and back injuries since July 2011, having played just four VFL matches between mid-July and mid-August in 2012.
But with four AFL matches to his name – including an impressive 27-disposal debut against St Kilda in round nine, 2011 – the club believes Evans can be a part of its future. And the Western Australian is thankful for his opportunity.
“I was very grateful to the club – firstly that they think I’m good enough to play senior footy, but secondly that they’ve got the confidence in me that I can get over it (the injuries),” he told melbournefc.com.au.
“So that’s very positive for me.
“It gave me a boost knowing that they did want to keep me. Now it’s more about repaying their faith and playing good footy going forward.”
Still, Evans did enough to impress the new coaching regime from his limited VFL appearances last year, being selected as an emergency against St Kilda in round 20 last year.
“I certainly needed to get back and play footy to show the new coaching staff that I could play footy. It was frustrating to get back close to the AFL side and then get injured again,” he said.
“But looking at the bigger picture, they (the coaching and fitness staff) were pretty keen to get my body right.
“It was annoying and a really disappointing way to finish the year, but that’s the way things go.”
Still, having had a taste in the VFL last year, plus the fact he had some AFL experience under his belt, gives Evans hope for the upcoming season.
“I was pretty nervous about coming back last year, after missing close to a year of training and playing. But I thought in the couple of [VFL] games I played, I picked up where I left off. I played some reasonable footy, without being outstanding,” he said.
“This year, one thing that I’m pretty confident about is that my body is in a lot better position than it was last year, and certainly my first year.
“Once I get a bit of training in over the next two months, it will have been a good thing that I’ve had the hip ops done. Hopefully that year from hell is behind me.”
Although eager to bounce back this year, Evans is also keeping his aims relatively simple at this stage.
“Right now, I’m pretty keen to just attack training and put my best foot forward and see how we go,” he said.
“I’ll reassess that into the season and how I’m tracking.
“Being out for so long, I don’t know where I sit, so I’ll reassess that going forward, but there is no doubt I want to play senior footy – they put me on the senior list for a reason.”