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Hayden Ballantyne chats to the media after returning to the club for pre-season training

The influence of Matthew Pavlich at Fremantle is continuing two pre-seasons after his retirement, with Hayden Ballantyne replicating some of the off-field work that saw Pavlich play 353 career games.

Ballantyne is feeling mentally prepared for the challenging months ahead, arriving at the club on Monday for his first official pre-season training session.

“I’m excited to get out here,” Ballantyne said.

“Physically I know it’s hard, but mentally, I know I’ve done nine (pre-seasons) before.

“I know the pain will end soon and we’ll get into games mid-February sometime, so that’s what we’re looking forward to. The hard work starts now for us.”

In preparing for his 10th pre-season, Ballantyne has leaned on Pavlich to find a way to get more from his body.

“Pav always used to talk about all the extra flexibility stuff he used to do, so I thought I’ll give Pilates a go and it’s worked wonders,” Ballantyne said.

“I’ve done eight or nine weeks. I’m getting my flexibility up, a bit of core strength as well.

“Pilates has made a big difference flexibility-wise as my legs aren’t getting any younger. I need to get a bit more flexibility into my muscles and tendons so Pilates has played a big part over my off-season to get me prepped up for today’s start.”

Ballantyne said it was important to focus heavily on his body after missing the first half of the 2017 season with a hamstring injury.

“Pilates does everything, mainly through core, back, hammies, calves, everything. (My) hamstring flexibility has gotten a lot better,” Ballantyne said.

“Once you hit 30, apparently you’re old, so I needed to do something.”

Ballantyne’s goal in 2018 is to play as much football as possible after his 10 games in 2017 was his fewest since his debut season in 2009. 

“(My pre-season goals) are always the same, just play the best I can and play every game,” Ballantyne said. 

“That’s been my aim every year I’ve been here, is to play every game and that’ll be the same this year.”

Despite coming off an injury-hampered season, Ballantyne won’t be changing the way he plays to avoid injury.

“That kind of thing doesn’t faze me. (What concerns me) more is the suspensions,” Ballantyne said.

“If you go in too hard and accidentally clean someone up, you get two weeks straight away. That’s what worries me a bit more.

“Injuries are a part of the game. It happens, and, hopefully, it doesn’t happen again this year. I won’t be changing my game too much I wouldn’t have thought.”

Ballantyne said the key to avoiding suspension is to make sure his focus is always on the football and not his opponents.

“If you are half a second too fast or two slow, you’re in trouble,” Ballantyne said.

“As long as the ball is the main priority. Generally, I’m always going for the ball as hard as I can, so there’s nothing that is going to change my game.”

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