TANNER Smith was feeling on top of his game as the 2014 AFL home and away season approached.
Smith had fully recovered from a shoulder construction.
He had put in a full pre-season with the Fremantle Dockers without any hitches.
The 20-year-old felt he was ready to stake a claim to be part of the grand finalist’s new campaign.
Unfortunately, out of the blue, the former Kalkee youngster and North Ballarat Rebels graduate was struck down by a hamstring injury in the WAFL opening round playing for Peel Thunder.
This was no ordinary torn or strained hamstring. Smith, who has not played since making his AFL debut against Hawthorn in Launceston in round four last year, split the tendon in his left leg.
With the AFL season six rounds in, Smith is already facing a race against time to make a bid to force his way into the team this year.
The Dockers officially listed Smith as being four to five weeks away from returning, but Smith told The Courier on Wednesday it was difficult to put an actual time on his return.
Smith said that after a lot of swimming early in the rehabilitation process when there was a need to stay off his legs, the focus was now on gym work and physiotherapy.
“I’ve progressed to strength work (in the gym) and some light jogging. As the weeks go by, I’ll increase my speed and volume (of running).
Tanner said it had been frustrating he had not been able to prove himself when it came to showing the progress he had made.
“You can only control what’s in your control though, and I just have to be patient.”
He said his priority was to ensure he was 100 per cent right when he did make a return.
Tanner, who is contracted until the end of next year, said this was why he could not put a time on when he would be back to full fitness.
He said he was hoping to get some quality football in this season.