Ground holds no fears for Schoenmakers

RYAN Schoenmakers has no hard feelings towards Aurora Stadium.

Ryan Schoenmakers at training at Aurora Stadium yesterday. Picture: Scott Gelston.

Ryan Schoenmakers at training at Aurora Stadium yesterday. Picture: Scott Gelston.

In fact, it is still one of his favourite grounds in the country.

That is despite the fact it is the ground where his AFL career was stalled following innocuously twisting his right knee during last year's round 4 clash with Fremantle.

That twist saw the key- position player's right anterior-cruciate ligament rupture, which required a full knee reconstruction and more than 12 months out of the game, forcing him to watch on as his teammates tasted premiership glory against the Dockers later in the year.

The 23-year-old from South Australia returned to the AFL in round 7 against St Kilda and has not missed a game since, playing roles both in attack and defence.

This has seen him playing on Coleman Medal leader Jay Schluz to kicking a bag of four himself against the Saints.

He returned to the "scene of the crime" at Aurora three rounds ago against the West Coast.

"I honestly didn't think about it until some of the boys said about it after the game," Schoenmakers said.

"I didn't really go in worrying about it, as I have a lot of faith in my body.

"It is a great surface down there and I really enjoy playing down there, so it wasn't something I worried about.

"Being away from the game you realise how much you can miss it and being away from your teammates and it gives you that hunger and desire."

Schoenmakers, the 16th pick in the 2008 national draft, said he had enjoyed his new "swingman" role, but the pressure was now on him to get back to the form he displayed as a defender before hurting his knee.

While he said he enjoyed playing down back, there was something special about kicking a goal.

"It keeps the game fresh for me as you are not in the one set position and you can have focus areas for both positions and it keeps the game exciting.

"All the fitness and support staff are great and I was confident I'd be able to come back successfully. Being able to share it with (fellow ACL victim) Matt Suckling, who did his knee a couple of weeks before me (also at Aurora) and was able to come back into the side straight away and have an impact also gave me some confidence to come into the side and be able to contribute."

Schoenmakers, who is averaging 15 touches, four marks a game and has kicked 6.2, says he expects a tough outing against a Gold Coast side today buoyed by one of the biggest wins in its history.

"They are a hard physical team who have improved a lot, and we won't be taking this game lightly," he said.

"I didn't play against them earlier in the year (when Hawthorn won by 99 points) but speaking to a few of the boys, they said it was a more physical game than the scoreboard showed, and that didn't reflect how the game was played."