Essendon onballer Dylan Shiel has spoken on his up-and-down 2022 campaign that was marred by the on-field taunt from Sydney co-captain Luke Parker, something Shiel has labelled as "one of the hardest moments" of his career.
The 29-year-old endured an arduous opening half to last season, battling a side strain that sidelined him for Round 2 before being demoted to the medical sub role for the club's Round 7 bout with the Bulldogs.
But the lowest point in Shiel's 2022 season came at the SCG a fortnight later when Parker mocked the ex-Giant's defensive efforts following a loose ball contest in Essendon's 58-point loss to the eventual grand finalists.
While both Shiel and Parker have noted the incident was perhaps blown up externally from the media, the Bombers midfielder admitted it was a turning point in his season.
Shiel would soon rekindle the best form for the second half of last year, recording 10 straight matches of 20 or more possessions after going under that benchmark in four of his previous six matches.
"That was probably one of the hardest moments of my career, but what followed was one of the best moments of my career," Shiel told 7 News.
"(I) found more passion for the game, I started to really enjoy my footy.
"Just to then find out what I'm made of at a really low point in football, to really come out of that and play some good footy again (was rewarding).
Shiel, a member of the 2017 All-Australian side, will look to emulate the vein of form he struck when the Bombers open their 2023 campaign against Hawthorn in March.
Shiel admitted the club are looking to return to September as quickly as they can, however called for patience from fans.
"It's gonna take time," he said.
"Are we trying to get there quicker? Absolutely, but it's not something that can happen overnight."
By his own admission, 2022 was the toughest of Dylan Shiel’s footy career. Speaking exclusively to 7NEWS, the @essendonfc midfielder reveals Bombers fans will need patience in Brad Scott’s first season. https://t.co/5zYfOfGqUb @_AMcCormack7 #7AFL #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/w0uT0XWpKB
— 7NEWS Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) January 8, 2023
2023 will be Shiel's 12th season in the AFL, having been a member of GWS' inaugural side in 2012. He played 135 games in the orange and charcoal before requesting a trade to Essendon at the end of the 2018 season.
Should Shiel line up for the Bombers in their Round 1 bout against Hawthorn, the game will be his 200th in the AFL.