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Melbourne Football Club

vandenBerg edging closer to full fitness

I’d say this is the fittest I’ve been in a couple of years now.
Aaron vandenBerg

AARON vandenBerg had to wait 679 days between AFL matches prior to a comeback in 2018, but he is confident his troublesome run with injury is now behind him.

Although he’s faced a minor setback in the pre-season, the 26-year-old is feeling stronger than he has in a long time and is ready to ramp up his training load.

“I’m getting close to full fitness,” vandenBerg told Melbourne Media.

“I had a shoulder operation in the off-season so now I’m just working my way back through that.

“I’m looking to get myself back into the main group towards the end of this month.”

Since being drafted to the club in the 2015 Rookie Draft, vandenBerg hasn’t had a clear run at his AFL career.

The utility has continuously been hampered by injury, but he finally feels ready to take on the latter stages of pre-season.

“Without a doubt it’s been a long time since I’ve had a full pre-season,” vandenBerg said.

“I’d say this is the fittest I’ve been in a couple of years now.

“I did get back to play games last year which was great, but I still did that off a very limited pre-season and training.”

After pulling on the red and blue guernsey in the final seven matches of the season, vandenBerg is finally getting some continuity in his game.

And while the lingering foot injury which sidelined him for so long will continue to be in the back of his mind, he can confidently say it’s no longer a restriction.

“Obviously I need to be conservative with the way I manage it but in terms of proper loading and getting back to full fitness and playing good football, I think this is the best it’s been in an extremely long period of time,” he said.

“I’m hoping that within the next month or two I’ll get back to my best again.”

vandenBerg is as determined as they come, and his work ethic was evident over the Christmas break.

“We didn’t really have much of a break because it’s such an important period of the year,” he said.

“We worked extremely hard when we were at home and a lot of us in rehab actually came back a little bit early voluntarily to do a session and try and get back in that main group a little bit quicker.”

In his four seasons at Melbourne, vandenBerg has managed just 35 AFL games – an underwhelming return for a man of his talent.

 “I haven’t played more than 14 games in a season due to my foot,” he said.

“Now I’m more worried about trying to get a full season under my belt as opposed to just getting back to play games.”

With a desire to play consistent football in 2019, vandenBerg could add depth to the Demons midfield.

He is a versatile option who can push forward and kick a goal, but with an average of four tackles per game across his career, his grunt would be a boost for the side.

“At the moment I’m currently training in the midfield group for the first time in a while which is nice,” he said.

“Hopefully I stay in there but I’m more worried about just doing whatever is right for the team.

“I’m sure whatever Simon (Goodwin) feels is the most appropriate position for me, he’ll put me there and I’ve just got to play my role.”