ATHLETIC Brisbane Lions ruckman Matthew Leuenberger has completed his first full training session since tearing his achilles last April.
The 204cm West Australian got through an entire session with his teammates at the Lions’ training ground at Coorparoo on Thursday night to signify another big step in his comeback.
Leuenberger started the 2012 season with achilles tendonitis, but in round three against Fremantle suffered a slight tear.
What he thought would be a six-week injury turned into a season-ender.
Unfortunately for the 24-year-old, he’s no stranger to long stints on the sidelines, having had knee surgery and suffered from a resulting staph infection in 2009.
So completing his first full session in almost 10 months was a big relief.
"I'm rapt. It's been a long time coming," Leuenberger said.
"My heart rate was pumping a bit before (the session) just thinking about it. It's a bit exciting for me, it's been a while."
Leuenberger has gradually been building over the pre-season, incorporating more running, more agility and more jumping as the weeks have passed.
He is now adamant he will be right for the season-opener against the Western Bulldogs on March 30.
Leuenberger said sitting out for the majority of last season was a mental test as much as it was physical.
"I thought I was coming back in a short period of time, but as time went on, the date of return kept dragging on and on and kept getting pushed back and back, and mentally that's pretty frustrating," he said.
"You can tolerate it for a couple of weeks and by the end you're starting to question what's going on.
"It was frustrating and tested me mentally a lot."
Leuenberger had a standout 2011 season that put him on the edge of the competition’s elite ruckmen, and despite the setback, said he had total confidence in his body.
"I think for me, I relate it a lot back to when I had my knee injury and was coming back from the staph infection, the way I got confidence was training on it," he said.
"So I'm looking at the next five or six weeks as being really important in developing confidence in that tendon and having trust in it that it will hold up.
"I've been jumping and doing aggressive movements on the tendon for five weeks now. I've never lacked confidence in attempting to do things.
"I'd say I'm in a good headspace in believing in it and having faith that it's going to hold up - I'm not doubting it at all.
"I think I'll be right in developing that confidence and be no worries to go by the start of the season."
Lions midfielder Daniel Rich said it was a huge boost seeing Leuenberger back on the training paddock.
"As a midfielder, he's your best mate, he's the one that feeds you the ball so it's good to see him up and going," Rich said.
"He hasn't left any stone unturned in terms of his preparation getting back to where he wants to be and where we want him to be.
"It's just good to see him running on the track and getting stuck into footy instead of running laps or being stuck on crutches."
Michael Whiting covers Brisbane Lions news for AFL.com.au. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_mikewhiting