Last year I found I was very much behind the eight-ball.
Billy Longer cut an imposing figure for a first-year ruckman last season, but soon discovered that he was relatively underdeveloped in terms of strength and fitness.
Longer still went on to feature in five senior AFL games with the Lions, which included an eye-opening debut match opposed to Fremantle giant Aaron Sandilands.
But like most ruckmen of his age, it was always going to take time for the former Victorian Metro U18 Captain to become ‘AFL-ready’.
Now, as hear nears the end of his first ever ‘full’ pre-season, Longer is already feeling fitter, stronger, and more prepared for the 2013 season.
“Last year I found I was very much behind the eight-ball, but with one pre-season down…I’ve gotten a lot quicker,” Longer told LIONS TV.
“I’m also focussing in the gym, trying to get my strength up, but no so much as to hinder my endurance.”
“I find I’m lifting quite a bit more than I was last year, and at the same time feeling a lot fitter.”
The return of Matthew Leuenberger from injury and off-season recruitment of Stefan Martin means that Longer will have some stiff competition for a senior position in Round One, but the 19 year-old is keeping an eye on the bigger picture.
“My goals for the season are to continually improve, and keep working on endurance and strength,” he said.
In terms of his teammates, Longer identified Mitch Golby and Sam Docherty as two of his standouts on the training track so far this pre-season.
“Mitch, to his credit, has been right on this year. His endurance is awesome and his competitive one-on-one work is ranked near the top, so he’ll be an interesting one to watch this year,” Longer said.
“Sam Docherty has also come back in awesome shape. His fitness is in the top five or so in our squad at the moment.”