Palmer has big plans at Dockers - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Palmer has big plans at Dockers

By Justin Chadwick 09/11/2009 07:15:14 PM Comments (0)

Fremantle midfielder Rhys Palmer has vowed to return to AFL ranks fitter, faster and stronger as he enters the final months of rehabilitation from a serious knee injury.

Palmer, winner of the 2008 NAB Rising Star Award, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a round five win over Sydney last season.

The 20-year-old resumed running duties eight weeks ago and is confident of returning in time for the Dockers' NAB Cup campaign, which kicks off against Melbourne on February 21.

And Palmer, renowned for his gut running and ball-winning ability, believed his time out of the game had given him the chance to address why his kicking efficiency dropped during the latter stages of 2008 and early in '09.

"I guess every young kid has chinks in their armour at this stage (of their career) so it's given me a good opportunity now to rectify that and come back a better player," Palmer said on Monday.

"I think my kicking style needs work.

"At the moment I haven't been doing too much kicking, been laying off my legs, but I'll step that up in the coming weeks and it will give me a good opportunity to get that right.

"You saw in the grand final this year ... the contested ball was amazing, and when you do win the ball you have to be so precise about it."

But improving his disposal efficiency was just one item on Palmer's 'To Do' list.

During the off-season, Palmer joined assistant coach Chris Scott and conditioning guru Chris Spinks on a gruelling bike getaway, tackling the steep slopes of Victoria's Mount Buffalo, Falls Creek and Tawonga Gap.

"We were climbing for two hours straight so I built a lot of mental toughness out of it," Palmer said.

"Hopefully I come back a better runner.

"I've put on a couple of kilos (during the off-season) and looking at Geelong's midfield, everyone weighs about the 85kg mark.

"It's the benchmark of the competition so I've taken a leaf out of their book and put on a few extra kilos."

Palmer said he was a chance to make his playing return in Fremantle's NAB Cup season opener against the Demons.

"The knee's feeling great and coming along fine," he said.

"I've been on a running program over the last eight weeks ... so I'll gradually step it up until I get into the main group ... (which should be) just after Christmas, if not before.

"At the moment I'm on track for a couple of NAB Cup games."

But Palmer admitted it would be tough finding his role in a new-look Fremantle line-up, which debuted 11 players in 2009.

"It probably will be an issue at the start but I'm looking forward to it," he said.

"They all had a great season last year and it's exciting times here."

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