It was his first game in almost 14 months, so it’s no surprise there were some pre-game, and in-game nerves for Daniel Nielson on Sunday.
Nielson made his return from a knee injury in Werribee’s Development League team.
For the key-defender, it was a long time coming.
“Obviously you are thinking about it a fair bit while you’re in rehab, you’re like ‘will I even remember how to play football?’,” Nielson told NMFC.com.au.
“Being out there, it probably took me half a quarter or a quarter just to sort of get a bit of touch.
“I started not too bad. I think I was just a bit excited, a bit jittery … I think my first kick wasn’t too great.
“Apart from that, I started getting a handle on it and started feeling like I hadn’t left the field.”
PRESS PLAY above to watch the full Nielson/Vickers-Willis update.
Nielson made a strong impact in his first pre-season at North, breaking into the NAB Challenge team in 2015.
Despite his ACL injury soon after halting his progress for an extended period, his future is bright.
“I had the biggest smile for weeks, knowing that I wanted to play this game and finally getting out there,” Nielson said.
“The legs are feeling it definitely. But obviously you just keep persevering and getting through it trying to get that match fitness back up.”
Things are looking up for fellow 2014 draftee Ed-Vickers Willis too.
Coming off surgery on both shoulders last year, the youngster lined up alongside Nielson deep in defence.
“My shoulders really surprised me. It was a bit of the unknown, but they felt awesome,” Vickers-Willis said.
“I think first game up, all you can really do is enjoy the contest, and after a year just getting used to competing again.”