Kangaroos skipper Jack Ziebell (file) has overcome his injuries and will be ready for round one.North Melbourne skipper Jack Ziebell has fully recovered from the injuries that plagued him last year and is ready to play in the AFL season-opener.
Ziebell was on a modified training program until early January after undergoing toe surgery and having also endured rib and collarbone injuries in 2017.
The 26-year-old wasn’t named in the Kangaroos’ squad for Friday night’s AFLX round-robin at Etihad Stadium, but he is set to feature later in the pre-season competition.
“He’s had a particularly good post-Christmas period,” coach Brad Scott told reporters on Wednesday.
“He did a lot of preparation without doing a lot of full training prior to Christmas, but he’s come back from the break in great shape … he’s ready to play any time.
“We’re just working with him now to get him in absolutely perfect shape for round one.
“How we structure that we’re not quite sure yet. He won’t play AFLX but we expect him to be absolutely right for (the first pre-season competition game).”
Of more concern to Scott are Mason Wood and Declan Mountford who both picked up injuries in the past week.
Mountford will miss up to a month of training after undergoing surgery to repair an AC joint, while Wood (fractured thumb) will be held out of full contact drills for up to three weeks.
In brighter news for North, veteran goalkicker Jarrad Waite has enjoyed an excellent preparation ahead of his 16th AFL season.
Waite, who has just turned 35, was restricted to 10 games last year by shoulder and calf injuries.
But he will play in the AFLX tournament and Scott is bullish about his prospects this year.
“It is a strange thing to say about someone of his age, but he feels — and I agree with him — that his best footy is ahead of him, and he’s obviously played some high level footy in the past,” the coach said.
“We’ll probably manage his pre-season games to a certain extent, but I think the AFLX game will suit him.
“He wants to get out there and play, and while he is really enthusiastic, we want to get our best players out there and having a crack at this concept.”