A year on from sustaining an ACL injury playing for Peel against Subiaco on 2 June 2019, midfielder Stefan Giro feels as fit and healthy as he has ever been.
The 21-year-old hopes to soon be in the mix for selection so he can build on his 10 AFL games in his debut season in 2018.
An elite runner, Giro has seen fellow winger Brett Bewley take the mantle as the time trial leader at the club.
“I feel just as fit as I was before but ‘Binga’s’ a good runner as well, so it would be a pretty good matchup I think,” Giro said.
“I’m feeling back to my usual self.
“I’ve improved a lot of my speed in terms of short distance work, which is probably due to the work I’ve been doing in the gym with (high performance manager) Jason Weber and ‘Jacko’ (strength and conditioning coach Jackson Dennis).
“It’s about 12 months now and I’ve still got a few end pieces to tick off but I’m feeling really good, really fit.”
AFL-listed players will not take part any state-league competitions this year but Giro still hopes to build his match fitness prior to making his AFL comeback.
“Hopefully, when we go over to Gold Coast we have some scratch matches, just getting into some match sim and getting my confidence up,” Giro said.
“(The plan is) to play some good footy and work my way back into the team.”
Weber has been pleased with the work and results Giro has produced during his rehabilitation.
“From the outset the message to Stefan was ‘we’re going to send you back better’,” Weber said.
“The plan was not to just bring his leg back, it was to make the whole thing better.
“He hit some fantastic personal bests leading up to the Covid-19 shutdown period and he was absolutely flying.
“Unfortunately, that eight-week period where we would have ‘iced the cake’ and got those last steps done to integrate him into football, we weren’t able to do.
“We’re in a position now where there’s those couple of things we need to tick off but we’re very comfortable that he has done everything in his power.
“It will probably just take another couple of weeks to make sure the integration of football is full and complete.”
Giro expects Fremantle to benefit from spending at least a month together in their hub on the Gold Coast, with the club set to relocate in the second week of June.
“It’s exciting, I think we’ll grow closer as a group. Being a young group, it should be good fun,” Giro said.
“Even now, we’re training in groups so we still haven’t been able to spend a heap of time with each other.
“It will be good to just spend time as an actual group again, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Giro has enjoyed the past week where he has made the return to team training alongside a number of younger Freo midfielders.
“The mood amongst the boys has been really good, everyone is up and about and keen to get back into it,” Giro said.
“I’m in group four with Luke Valente, Mitch Crowden, Tom North, Lloyd Meek, Caleb Serong and Michael Frederick.
“We’ve got a great group, everyone is working hard. A few of the boys have said we’ve been best on track.
“It’s like a development midfield, everyone’s really hungry to learn and everyone has been getting to work.”