Caption: Lions ruckman Stef Martin in the gym during Brisbane's pre-season camp in Tasmania. Credit: Lions Media
Caption: Lions ruckman Stef Martin in the gym during Brisbane's pre-season camp in Tasmania. Credit: Lions Media

Lions veteran feels like he’s 25 again

BRISBANE ruckman Stefan Martin says he is in the best shape of his AFL career and feels like he is 25 years old again.

The 33-year-old is off-contract at the end of 2020 but believes he has much more to offer.

Injuries interrupted much of his time with Melbourne and the early part of his Brisbane tenure after switching clubs at the end of 2012.

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But the 199cm, 104kg man mountain has been a resilient, reliable and productive powerhouse for the Lions in recent seasons.

The 182-game veteran played the first finals of his 12-year career in 2019 when he was one of the more central figures in Brisbane's surge up the AFL ladder and he is hungry for more September ­action in 2020 and beyond.

"I feel physically perfect, which is nice to say. And having had that little taste of ­finals last year, it only makes you want to pursue it all over again,'' Martin said.

"I've had other seasons when I've felt physically perfect but I feel like I'm 25.

"I probably shouldn't feel like that but I do. I'm moving as well as ever.

"I feel like I could play until my mid to late 30s. Is it going to happen? I hope so. That's probably beyond my control but physically I feel like I could just keep going.''

 

Stefan Martin finally got a taste of finals footy last year. Picture: Adam Head
Stefan Martin finally got a taste of finals footy last year. Picture: Adam Head

Martin only took up football when he was 19 years old after growing up playing basketball and time on the sidelines with injuries means his legs feel much fresher than the average 33-year-old AFL ruckman.

"I didn't get those footy injuries when I was a kid which may help me. I do know that the better you look after yourself, you give yourself a better chance of extending your career,'' he said.

Martin - who deferred his law studies in the back half of last year to focus on Brisbane's charge into the finals - missed most of the last pre-season through injury and warmed into the 2019 campaign after getting his legs back and establishing chemistry with the new players in Brisbane's midfield.

The Lions' on-ball division will be deeper than the Grand Canyon this season with the likes of Charlie Cameron and Cameron Rayner rotating through the midfield to help Lachie Neale, ­Jarryd Lyons, Jarrod Berry, Dayne Zorko, Hugh McCluggage and Cameron Ellis-Yolmen.

"I feel pretty privileged to play with those guys," Martin said.

"We've reached a point where there is a real synergy there.

"I could practically put the ball anywhere and they are going to do a good job.

"And it's not just at the stoppage. You can give them the ball around the ground and know with confidence they are going to use it very well. We've got a good balance of contributors in there and we roll a fair few blokes through as well which makes it so much fun to play alongside them.''

Martin has been battling Oscar McInerney during Brisbane's match simulations, with the ruckmen switching between the "A" and "B" teams during the pre-season.

McInerney has been ­impressive at centre bounces but Martin's work around the ground has underlined his importance to Brisbane's hopes.

McInerney has been a handy contributor up forward for Brisbane but match-ups with certain clubs may dictate whether or not the Lions play two ruckmen in the same 22.

A third tall forward pinch-hitting in the ruck to relieve Martin could be an option for Brisbane.



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