GEORGE Burbury is glad it was Collingwood he was up against when he made his comeback from a broken jaw.
Playing against the same team and player (Nick Maxwell) in which the now infamous NAB Challenge incident (when the Tasmanian suffered a double fracture in his jaw after a collision with Maxwell) helped overcome any mental hurdles the hard-at-it forward may have had.
"I was a little bit nervous, but that's also because it was my first time playing at the G," the Hobart forward told The Examiner yesterday, recalling his return to the big league in the Cats' win over the Magpies on Saturday night.
"But it was excitement more than anything really, and it did make me feel valued to be picked after just the one week in the VFL, that I had that support and belief from my teammates and coaches that I could come in and play the role that they wanted me to play.
"That gave me confidence, and getting that first game out of the way, getting through unscathed and I'm glad that one is behind me, so hopefully I can put the jaw to bed and I can look towards the future rather than living in the past.
That gave me confidence, and getting that first game out of the way, getting through unscathed and I'm glad that one is behind me, so hopefully I can put the jaw to bed and I can look towards the future rather than living in the past.George Burbury
"If anything it was good to get it [playing Collingwood] out of the way and now I can approach football more normally, but I'll still go in with the same attitude no matter who we play.
"It was a good mental barrier to overcome to be able to play against Collingwood again."
Burbury won praise for his return to senior football, which saw him play as a defensive- forward on the likes of Maxwell (who was apologetic about the incident before the first bounce) and Alex Fasolo, collecting 12 touches, five tackles and applied 12 pressure acts.
However, the 21-year-old, who spent three years on the Cats' rookie list before being upgraded at the end of last season, understands he still has a long way to go before he can be truly belong at the top level, despite his quick return.
"In the pre-season they said there was a spot there for a pressure player, and there are four or five of us rotating between that role at the moment and I was lucky enough to get picked.
"But I'm still learning and I know I've still got a lot to prove and a lot of hard work to do and if I get picked next week I'll be better again.
"Going forward, the coaches will increase their expectations on me and I will on myself."
Burbury now has three games under his belt, where he is averaging five tackles and 11 touches a match in that defensive-forward role, and will be hoping to make it number four when Geelong hosts West Coast on Saturday night.