IN his typically laconic style, Dane Swan admits he isn’t exactly itching to play his first game of competitive footy since March 26, 2016.
The Collingwood superstar and Brownlow Medallist will this week be lining up for his junior club, Westmeadows on both Saturday against Tullamarine and ANZAC Day against Oak Park.
While he wasn’t willing to go as far as to say he’s champing at the bit, he did tell essendondfl.com.au that he won’t be simply going through the motions when he pulls on the yellow and black for the first time in nearly two decades come Saturday.
“I still want to go out there and get a kick,” the 34-year-old said.
“It’d be a waste of time if I went out there and wasted everyone’s time by not getting a kick.
“When it’s game day I’m always ready to play, no matter what my attitude looks like or whether I care or not.
“Come game day I’m there to play well. Who doesn’t want to be best-on-ground?”
Swan’s illustrious 258-game AFL career ended on a sour note, with the gun midfielder breaking three bones in his foot against Sydney in the first game of the 2016 season.
He doesn’t exactly know what to expect come 2pm Saturday against Tullamarine, as his right foot has not been through the rigors of a competitive game of footy since that faithful night at the SCG.
But if it does hold steady, Swan is feeling confident he can have a genuine impact for a young Tigers side that showed plenty of promise in their Round 1 win over Jacana.
“I don’t know what my turning circle is like,” he admitted.
“I don’t know if it’ll get sore after running for 20 minutes, so I've just got no idea (how he’ll go) but I think I’ll be able to get through.
“I’ve got enough confidence in myself to be able to get through.”
It’s a homecoming that Swan has embraced as best he can within the confines of his busy post-AFL life.
When he has been able to get down to Willowbrook Reserve for training, Swan has been more than willing to impart some of his wisdom onto the Tigers’ younger brigade and lead by example on the track.
“I certainly don’t see myself as a mentor but clearly I’d imagine I have a reasonably good understanding of how to play in the midfield, seeing as I’ve done it for 258 AFL games,” Swan said.
“But I’m more than happy if a couple of the young boys want to come and ask me how to play certain positions,
“I never really trained with much intensity at Collingwood, but I’ve tried to come back and train with some intensity to try and help lift the skill level of the group – and help them become better players.”
The MCG aside, Willowbrook is where Swan has played a large portion of his footy.
While it’s been a long time between his last junior game as a young Tiger and Saturday’s blockbuster Essendon Ford Division 1 clash against the rival Demons, Swan’s been impressed with the welcome his old club has afforded him.
“I haven’t been here for 17 years but not much has changed,” he said.
“It’s the same old faces, same old scoreboard, same old bench, same old clubrooms and it’s just a great club.
“The people have been really welcoming.
“They understand I can’t play every week and they’re happy with that, and most importantly all the players I’ll be playing with are really good.
“They’re good guys, they’ve been really welcoming and haven’t given me any allowances and treated me like I’m just one of the boys, and that’s exactly how it should be.”