Bastinac's hard work pays dividends - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bastinac's hard work pays dividends

Guy Hand 15/06/2011 04:35:22 PM Comments (0)

His AFL debut season couldn't have gone more smoothly but, for North Melbourne's Ryan Bastinac, the reality check was in the mail.

A knee injury in the latter stages of a gruelling pre-season cruelled the young midfielder's 2011, forcing him to miss the first half of the year.

His frustrations mirrored his club's.

As Bastinac slogged it out in rehabilitation sessions, medical pow-wows and the gym, North were getting flogged early in the season.

The Kangaroos were 2-7 three weeks ago before Bastinac made his quicker-than-expected return through the reserves.

"Footy does change quickly. You play every game last year and, this year, you miss half the season," Bastinac said.

"It definitely is frustrating, but you've just got to do all the right things and that's what I've done to get myself back out there earlier than expected.

"I had the chance to really work on my strength, bulk up in the gym and get as strong as I could.

"I think it's helping on the park now."

Even at 19, Bastinac is seen by coach Brad Scott as a vital component of a midfield, featuring stars Brent Harvey, Andrew Swallow and Daniel Wells.

A handy 25 disposals on his comeback in the Kangaroos' big win over Gold Coast last weekend suggests the inside midfielder has lost none of his ball-winning touch.

The Kangaroos have also put together back-to-back wins to climb to the fringe of the top eight.

Success has added buoyancy to a group of players, convinced they can launch a rearguard action in the second half of the season.

Their clash with Essendon at Etihad Stadium on Saturday looms as pivotal, with both sides in a large group hovering mid-table.

"We're only a game and a bit out (of the top eight). I didn't realise just how close we actually were to finals footy, but we're not far off," Bastinac said.

"The mood's great, but it's been great all year.

"We know where we're heading and where we want to get to."

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