After fracturing his hip in a well-publicised off-season bike accident, Jaidyn Stephenson has entered the 2022 pre-season with a point to prove, not just to his teammates, coaches and supporters, but to himself.

Stephenson was admitted to hospital in late August after he fell attempting to perform a mountain bike trick after drinks with his housemates.

While rumours were swirling about his return to training date all through the off-season, he says his pre-season preparation hasn’t been heavily affected by the injury.

“I was able to spend my 11 weeks off rehabbing it and getting back up to speed, [and] I got back to training on the same day as the first- to fourth-year players,” Stephenson told North Media.

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Jaidyn Stephenson interview

A fully fit Jaidyn Stephenson speaks with North Media about his injury recovery and his attack on pre-season number two at Arden Street.

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“I think people thought I was going to be in rehab for quite a while, but I only did the one session in the rehab group and then integrated back into the main group.

“Everything’s tracking quite nicely and it hasn’t disrupted me all that much.”

The sheer pain I was in for the next week or two was just excruciating and the worst pain I’ve ever been in.

- Jaidyn Stephenson

After having packed plenty into his short career so far, it can be easy to forget Stephenson is still just 22, and he says he’s taken life lessons from his mistake.

“I was at home with my roommates. The season had just ended about a week before and we were having a bit of fun, letting our hair down and having a few drinks,” he said.

“I had the poor judgement of getting on my bike which, as we know, didn’t turn out too well.

“I spoke with Nobes (coach David Noble) about two days after … he was more disappointed than angry. We had a good honest chat, and as much as he wasn’t happy with me he put his support behind me.

“It’s definitely something I regret, not only the embarrassment of it, but the sheer pain I was in for the next week or two was just excruciating and the worst pain I’ve ever been in."

Stephenson has put in a mountain of work to get himself back fit and firing by this point in the year, and while the injury was self-inflicted, he’s worked to overcome the roadblocks it’s placed in front of him.

He says he’s conscious of paying back the goodwill he’s been shown by the club.

“I’m lucky to have my own gym set up at home so I was able to keep fit that way,” he said.

“About week eight or nine I started coming into the club and using the Alter-G machine we have here which decreases the weight you run at.

“(Reconditioning coach) Daniel Cross and (Head of Performance) Kevin White were probably the two biggest [influences] in getting me back up to speed to come back for day one.

“‘Crossy’ gave his time and was in here every day, so I did my Alter-G sessions with him and then weights afterwards. Having known Kev from the Pies, it was really good to come in and know the new guy who was running my rehab program.

“It’s been a blessing … I’ve got to repay the faith this season, and hopefully I can have a big year."