EVANDALE’S AFL star Nathan Grima admits another injury-interrupted season has made him question his football mortality.
A foot issue, specifically with the dreaded navicular bone, kept him out of the game for three months, and back where he says he has spent far too much time – on North Melbourne’s injury list.
Out of contract at the end of the season, the key defender has seen injury limit his AFL life to 80 games since being selected in the 2007 rookie draft, with his debut season over before it began thanks to an ACL injury, 2013 ending prematurely by another foot problem and this season producing just eight appearances.
‘‘List management is a big part of football and I’ve got to be realistic as I’ve just turned 29, but I’d love to play on next year and I hope the club can stick by me,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s hard not to look further than this year because it is your job and it is your livelihood and so much depends on it – you are silly to not start thinking about what is around the corner.
‘‘But the fact that I’m back playing footy again is a real positive for myself and the club and I want to finish this year off the best that I can.
‘‘I’ve got enough time to get myself super fit again and playing at a high level again.’’
Coach Brad Scott could not guarantee Grima a new contract on Thursday, saying: ‘‘We’ve got a few players out of contract that we’ve got to make decisions on. Their form and fitness will go a long way to helping us make those decisions.’’
The one positive Grima has taken from this season is that his back has not troubled him since it was operated on for a bulging disc three years ago, destroying his preseason this year.
Grima returned from his latest injury in last week’s win over Greater Western, coming in as a late inclusion after half a game for Werribee in the VFL.
Relief was the word he used to describe how he was feeling after getting through the match unscathed.
‘‘I had half a game in the VFL the week before and the plan was to get a full game in last week, but I got fast-tracked which was nice.
‘‘I was very nervous going into the game about how my match conditioning would be as I was blowing a bit in the VFL, so it didn’t give me a great amount of confidence.
‘‘But I knew I had done a lot of work in rehab and had given myself the best opportunity to come back and play at the level I needed to.’’
Apart from remaining fit, the one thing Grima wants to achieve is to play in a winning final, a realistic prospect with the Kangaroos sitting sixth on the ladder heading into round 21 and showing the ability to compete with the best in the competition.
Grima’s only visit to September came in 2012 against West Coast in Western Australia when the Eagles won by 96 points.
He had only just returned to the team from a hamstring injury, and it showed in his personal output with just five disposals.
‘‘I went in extremely underdone and we got belted off the park, and that’s not how I want to remember an AFL final being,’’ he said.
‘‘You want to be remembered as someone that performs well in finals and I’d love to be able to contribute if we play finals.
‘‘I don’t know how many games I’ve got left, so if got the opportunity to play in front of a big crowd in a final at the MCG in September when other guys are already on holidays, it would be a dream come true.’’