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Hibberd rapt to be back at the top level

Matt Burgan  May 19, 2017 2:31 PM

 

AFTER four matches with his new club, Melbourne defender Michael Hibberd says he’s simply rapt to be back playing at the highest level after 12 months on the sidelines.

Hibberd, who was one of Melbourne’s best in its 41-point win over the Crows at Adelaide Oval last Saturday night, has already fitted into the line-up with aplomb – and, not surprisingly, has quickly become an integral part of the team.

The 27-year-old, who notched up a career-best 34 disposals last round, said he was relishing playing in his new surroundings, after his start to the season was delayed by a knee and then Achilles injury.

“I’m rapt just to be back playing, but to have a win like we did last weekend and to be able to perform and contribute – I’m pretty happy,” he told melbournefc.com.au.

“I think we’re going really well as a team, especially after we had a disappointing loss to Hawthorn in round seven.

“I think we’re going in the right direction now and hopefully we’ll keep putting on strong performances.”

The 88-gamer said he hadn’t noticed much change in the game since returning for Melbourne’s ANZAC Day Eve clash against Richmond at the MCG.

“It’s just the same as I remembered – it’s a fast game footy and I wouldn’t say it’s any quicker. There is still a big emphasis on contested ball, which is a big thing for us – we want to win contested ball and try and get it forward,” he said.

“As backmen, I’m still doing the same craft and still doing the same thing as I was two or three years ago. I’ve actually fitted in pretty well, purely because I don’t think the game’s changed too much.

“The way Melbourne plays suits me pretty well.”

Looking ahead to Sunday’s clash against North Melbourne at the MCG, Hibberd said it was a big game in the context of the season. 

“It’s a massive challenge. They’re (North Melbourne) going pretty well, even though they weren’t great last week against Sydney, but they’ll want to bounce back,” he said.

“We’re ready for that and it’s going to be a good game.

“We’ve lost a couple of games by small margins and they’re pretty similar, so we’re ready for a big contest, because they’ll want to make up for the loss last week and we’re coming off a big win. Hopefully we can string it together.”

Hibberd added that it was an important period for the Demons with the mid-season break approaching.

“We definitely need to win as many games as we can, because we’re four [wins] and four [losses] and we’re thereabouts, but we’re not in the eight at the moment,” he said.

“This week’s a massive game and then we’ve got Gold Coast the week after, and then the bye, and then Collingwood, so they’re teams that are sitting near us on the ladder.”