A long-awaited return is fated for star defender Zac Williams, following his Achilles rupture during training in January.
A setback-free rehabilitation stint has poised the 23-year-old to resume full training and could play in the NEAFL next month, despite earlier grim predictions of an entire season on the sidelines.
The loss of Williams, who finished sixth in the best and fairest at the Giants last year and was a half-back star, was the first in what has been a horrific, injury-prone season for GWS.
Doubt, however, still remains on Williams’ ability to produce his best football, but Williams was quick to repel speculation.
“At the moment I’m going off how I’m feeling, and there’s no problems with the Achilles. It’s healed perfectly,” he told afl.com.au.
“I haven’t felt any pain for about three months.
“I’m not worried about not playing at a high level because I get to play in the NEAFL to test it and get my form back.
“The coaches aren’t going to just throw me back in after missing six months, so I have to prove I can play at AFL level again.
Williams’ time on the sidelines proved difficult for the young star, a stint he described as a “pretty shit time”.
“When I did it I was shattered and pretty down in the dumps, I hated everything,” he said.
“I’d never had a serious injury or even surgery, so it was a pretty shit time.
“But the physios assured me that if I did everything right with my rehab, I could get back by the end of the year.
“The fact that I could be back playing this year is a credit to our medical staff and the way we’ve gone about my rehab.”
In recent weeks Williams has increased the volume and intensity of his training to accomodate for a return to the AFL; but he understands the important logistics of playing with a former injury.
The Giants’ medical team will assess whether a return is appropriate, however, Williams will have just as much say in the process.
“I have to be honest, I can’t lie to them about getting sore or anything like that, just so I can get back on the field,” he said.
“Obviously I’ve been a part of the last two finals series and I don’t want to miss out on that this year, but I’m also thinking long-term as well.
“I don’t want to push myself and suffer another injury, and miss another pre-season, so I’m making sure I’m doing everything I can, but also being safe with it at the same time.”