GOLD Coast ruckman Zac Smith admits he can’t wait to return to the AFL.
Smith has put his hand up for selection for Sunday’s clash against St Kilda in Melbourne, ending a year-long injury nightmare after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament against the Western Bulldogs in round eight last May.
The 24-year-old is a good chance of being called straight into the Suns line-up with Andrew Boston, Tom Nicholls and Dan Gorringe all out due to injury.
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Seen as the most talented of the Suns’ young ruckmen, Smith says he’s confident his body will hold up to an AFL return but it’s just a matter of handling his nerves when he gets his chance.
“It’s been a long journey,” Smith said.
“It’s been pretty tough at times but it’s going to be exciting. I’m going to be pretty nervous no matter where I play this weekend.”
Smith says being placed on the Suns’ long-term injury list in March had been a tough decision to accept.
“A couple of months ago when they put me on the long-term injury list I’m like `oh, that’s ages away until I’m playing’ but I’ve been tackled, been tackling, jumping in the centre square, all that stuff, for months now.
“I know I’ve done the work, it’s just a matter of putting it into a game basically.”
Suns’ ruck coach Matt Primus will be a vocal supporter of Smith’s return when the match committee assembles to pick the team for the clash with the Saints.
While defender Rory Thompson or versatile tall Charlie Dixon could be given the ruck duties, Primus would like to head to Etihad Stadium boasting a genuine ruck option.
“It’s good for us as a team to have a genuine ruckman, it’s also good for our key forwards and backs to be able to cement themselves down there and play the majority of the time down there,” he said.
“We’ll weigh that up over the next couple of days.”