New Don over knee issue, 'ready to go’
Jennifer Phelan November 27, 2017 12:30 PM
DEVON Smith believes the knee injury that hampered his final year at Greater Western Sydney won’t affect his goal to play as a full-time midfielder at Essendon.
Smith, 24, played as a half-forward at the Giants after struggling to break into their star-studded midfield.
He believes the off-season break has allowed his right knee – which started as a torn meniscus that needed surgery back in May – to settle ahead of his planned midfield role as a Bomber.
“It’s going really well. I was advised to have eight weeks off and I had about seven-and-a-half and have been running for four weeks and it feels really good,” Smith said on Monday, as the full Bombers’ squad resumed training at Tullamarine.
“I don’t think they would have signed me up if I wasn’t ready to go and play good senior level footy.”
Smith has already admitted he could have better managed his knee in 2017, with soreness ruling him out of the Giants’ first final.
He was then overlooked for the second two, with now-retired forward Steve Johnson the preferred option.
“It was a bitter way to finish in the end, it was disappointing not to play in a prelim,” he said.
"Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? I probably would have had two or three weeks off to really settle [the knee] down rather than keep trying to play.
"We’re competitive people, footballers, and at that time of year, you don’t really want to miss out on finals, and in the end, I did anyway.
“In hindsight, I would have taken a bit more time off.”
Smith, a foundation Giant, said he wished his former club all the best despite the way their union ended.
The small forward took part in the majority of Monday’s session, albeit with strapping on his right knee.
He did the warm up along with fellow recruits Jake Stringer and a fit-looking Adam Saad, before moving to the smaller oval with the former Western Bulldog to join the players on lighter duties.
Smith and Stringer later joined in some match simulation, before the two were tasked with running drills where the former set the pace.
Stringer does appear to be slightly slimmer this pre-season, but the speedy Smith easily accounted for him as they ran sprints on the oval’s far side.
Dyson Heppell, Michael Hurley, Joe Daniher, Tom Bellchambers, Matthew Leuenberger and Conor McKenna were part of the modified duties group, which did some light running and uncontested drills.
They were joined by Mitch Brown, Josh Green and Jackson Merrett for part of the session, while the rest of the group – led by Zach Merrett – ran match simulation.
Orazio Fantasia, who suffered a serious hamstring injury in August but got back for the Bombers’ one and only final, was among those who trained inside.
Veteran midfielder Brendon Goddard was the notable absentee, having been granted some extra time off following his involvement in the recent Virgin Australia International Rules Series.
The Bombers’ new draftees – South Australians Jordan Houlahan and Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, and West Australian Matt Guelfi – will arrive at the club later this week.