Four months after suffering a painful injury off the back of an attempted bicycle stunt, enigmatic Roo Jaidyn Stephenson has opened up on the dicey decision that landed him in a world of hurt.
The 22-year-old was mostly deployed across the middle of the ground, averaging 19.4 disposals and 0.9 goals per game across his 19 appearances.
However, it was at post-season drinks where a poor lapse in judgement would land Stephenson in hot water.
Taking to his bike to show off his prowess, the mid-forward ended up having an accident and fracturing his hip, with Stephenson describing it to North Melbourne Media as the most painful experience of his life.
"I was at home with my roommates. The season had just ended about a week before and we were having a bit of fun, letting our hair down and having a few drinks," Stephenson said.
"I had the poor judgement of getting on my bike which, as we know, didn’t turn out too well.
"I spoke with Nobes (coach David Noble) about two days after … he was more disappointed than angry. We had a good honest chat, and as much as he wasn’t happy with me he put his support behind me.
"It’s definitely something I regret, not only the embarrassment of it, but the sheer pain I was in for the next week or two was just excruciating and the worst pain I’ve ever been in."
Stephenson worked hard during his 11-week break, undergoing intense rehab to hopefully join his teammates for the first day of pre-season.
Amazingly, the 22-year-old says that he only spent one session away from the main group, with his progress over his time off paying dividends.
"I think people thought I was going to be in rehab for quite a while, but I only did the one session in the rehab group and then integrated back into the main group," Stephenson said.
"Everything’s tracking quite nicely and it hasn’t disrupted me all that much.
"About week eight or nine I started coming into the club and using the Alter-G machine we have here which decreases the weight you run at.
"(Reconditioning coach) Daniel Cross and (Head of Performance) Kevin White were probably the two biggest [influences] in getting me back up to speed to come back for day one.
"It’s been a blessing … I’ve got to repay the faith this season, and hopefully I can have a big year."
Stephenson would be hoping that his side can make some more tangible progress in 2022 after 2021 bore some fruit in the form of some standout results.
Throw in the capture of fellow midfielder Josh Goater, small forward Paul Curtis, half-back Miller Bergman and father-son prospect Jackson Archer and the Kangaroos now boast one of the best sets of youngsters in the competition.