WHILE many of his Gold Coast teammates were spending their post-season break in either Europe or Las Vegas, Jesse Lonergan was back home at South Launceston.
But while there has been plenty of time to catch up with family and friends, this holiday for the 18-year-old has had a strong work focus to it, with plenty of time in the gym as he prepares his body for a second AFL preseason.
Lonergan, Gold Coast and Tasmania's top draft pick from last year at pick 13, had a season punctuated by injury, with a broken wrist delaying his debut until round 6 and a hamstring problem, which started in round 9, keeping him to four games and ending his season after round 18.
``I haven't stopped really,'' Lonergan said.
``Since I've been down here I've just been at the gym, running, swimming and just doing everything I can to be fit for Arizona (where the club will hold its high-altitude preseason camp next month).
``I didn't want to go overseas, as I just wanted to catch up to the rest of the boys as I'd missed a lot of footy, as I know my fitness has to be in top shape, and of course there was the chance to catch up with friends and family.
``It would be amazing to go and travel the world, but at the moment my priority is to get my body right.''
The former Launceston footballer admitted at times 2013 was ``frustrating'', as he was forced to spend most of it on the sidelines as the Suns won eight games in the best year of their short history.
``With the hamstring it was frustrating to be out for so long and try to do everything I can, but still not being able to play footy at the weekend, as it the one thing everyone loves doing,'' he said.
``They just put me in cotton wool after I kept trying to come back and tweaking it, it was nothing major, only 1-2 weeks each time, but now I'm back and running and it's feeling better than ever.
``It wasn't too tough (to be told his year was over), as I just wanted to get it right. I knew that even if I got back, I could only play a month of footy and I didn't want to risk anything and just make sure it was all nice and strong.''
Lonergan, who said his body is feeling as good as ever, has only one goal at the moment, to be fit for round 1.
``I don't want to put a number on it (the amount of games), as I could do any injury or have any bad luck that way,'' he said.
``Preparation is the key, as it is a high intensity game. I'm still young and my body is still growing, and I need to look after it the best that I can.
``Just being in the AFL system I'm very lucky, as I'm doing something I love and for that to be my job at the moment is a dream come true.
``At the club we have some good coaches like ``Bluey'' (Guy) McKenna, Mark Riley, Matty Primus, and then there's Gaz (Ablett) leading the way, and he's one of the best to ever play the game.
``He is a freak and is a great bloke on the field as he is off the field, and he leads by example by working very hard.''
The midfielder, who as a junior was known for his work at the bottom of the packs, admitted the rigours of AFL had initially been a shock.
``It was pretty tough to begin with, as I wasn't used to the workload,'' Lonergan said.
``But you've got to prepare and back it up and the club was good at managing me.
``It was a major shock with the heat and intensity up there, and you could tell a difference between a State League club and an AFL club, from the professionalism, to how hard everyone trains to the standards people set around the club.''