ADELAIDE defender Luke Thompson believes an injury-free pre-season will provide the impetus to reignite his stalled AFL career.
The former Timboon Demon wants to push for a spot in the Crows’ back six in the early rounds after enjoying a strong summer on the track.
Thompson, 23, said he’d had an ideal lead-up to his fifth season at the elite level — a stark contrast to his 2013 pre-season in which injury put him on the back foot.
The former rookie was on the cusp of senior selection a number of times last season but a serious ankle injury stopped him from adding to his 14-game tally.
“Last year was interrupted but this year I was able to do the whole pre-season,” Thompson said.
“I didn’t miss a session. I did 100 per cent of it. I am feeling fit.
“My interrupted pre-season hurt me a bit (last year) because I needed to get my fitness up.
“I know I can do the job when fully fit.
“We had a defensive unit which was settled back there and I was travelling emergency, and emergency here (at Adelaide) a few times, but couldn’t crack in.
“When I was looking like cracking in I hurt my ankle. It was a little unlucky.”
Thompson, whose most recent AFL appearance was Adelaide’s narrow 2012 preliminary final loss to Hawthorn, said he’d worked diligently on his disposal and shed a couple of kilograms from his 194-centimetre frame during pre-season in a bid to regain a spot in the Crows’ best 22.
He played in the Crows’ first NAB Challenge match against Port Adelaide and is available for selection for their season-opener against Geelong at Kardinia Park tomorrow night.
“I worked hard in the pre-season on my kicking and Scott Camporeale helped me a lot with my kicking technique,” Thompson said.
“I talked to the fitness staff at the end of the season and they said ‘you are a decent runner so get fit again’.
“I dropped a couple of kilos so I could run a bit.”
Thompson said he saw himself as a third tall defender “looking to help out in the air and play tall and small”.
“Hopefully I will play a few games this year but my goal is to keep improving, whether that’s doing my role in the state league or AFL,” he said.
“As long as I am doing my role and what the coaches want, I am happy.”
Adelaide will field a stand-alone team in the SANFL this season which will bring its entire AFL list together.
Thompson, who was previously aligned to Woodville-West Torrens, said the move enabled the Crows to fast-track their young players’ development and teach them the AFL game plan.
“It will get the boys a lot closer as a group and to play the same style as the AFL team will bridge the gap (when you are elevated),” he said.
Thompson paid tribute to Adelaide senior assistant Dean Bailey, who lost his battle with lung cancer last week, saying the former Melbourne coach had left a lasting impression at West Lakes.
“Bails was one of those coaches who had an impact on a lot of people,” he said.
“He’d been in it a long time and a lot of the boys he helped out a bit and he helped Sando (Brenton Sanderson) as well with him being a young coach.”