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Martin can't wait

Michael Whiting  March 5, 2015 5:39 PM

AFL 2015 Portraits - Brisbane Lions

Stefan Martin is like a kid on Christmas Eve ahead of his first practice match for the season.

Last year I was coming off zero pre-season, so it's pretty nice to have a good volume of work behind me

ASIDE from his fierce new haircut, Brisbane Lions ruckman Stefan Martin looks like a kid on the night before Christmas.

Whether you're talking about footy, his ruck partnership with Matthew Leuenberger or Friday night's NAB Challenge match against the Sydney Swans, Martin just can't stop smiling.

View the squad to take on the Swans in NAB Challenge Rd2

It's little wonder. He doesn't have to look back too far to remember when times were much rougher.

This time last year Martin was in the midst of three successive hamstring tears that wiped out the first half of his season.

Once he began to play, he enjoyed a remarkable career revival.

Over the final 12 weeks of the season, the 28-year-old became the form ruckman of the competition and earned himself a new two-year contract.

Now, sporting a shaved back and sides hairstyle with a Humphrey Bogart-style slick across the top, Martin can't wait to rip into his 2015 campaign against the Swans.

His imposing 198cm, 104kg frame – that's what he's listed at, but he is clearly bigger – has barely skipped a beat this pre-season.

Check out the Hard Yards the players have put in this pre-season

After stepping off from a light training run at the Coffs Harbour International Stadium, Martin told AFL.com.au he was raring to go after watching from the boundary line against St Kilda last weekend.

"Last year I was coming off zero pre-season, so it's pretty nice to have a good volume of work behind me," Martin said.

"Hopefully that'll keep my body injury free. I'm really excited."

But what gets him even more excited is the prospect of teaming up with Leuenberger.

The duo shared the same ground just once last year – in round 23 against Geelong – and had good success.

The athletic Martin played primarily as an on-baller that night and chalked up a career-high 32 disposals, but said that wouldn't be happening again this year.

"It was a bit unorthodox that game because I was playing in the midfield a bit and as a high forward," Martin said.

"I guess it's hard to know what to take out of that game, but we'll see more tomorrow night and going forward.

"We need to make sure we can make it work so we get the best out of each other and for the team.

"It'll be a bit of suck it and see.

"We know we're going to have to play forward, whether that's deep or coming up the ground a bit more … but we can do a bit of all of that, and see what's most effective.

"That's the beauty of the NAB Cup, we can try a few things out."