THIS season Cam Richardson has been forced to learn more patience.
At this time last year, Richardson was adjusting to the whirlwind of AFL ranks having been drafted, via a Gold Coast trade, to North Melbourne hot off a Victorian Football League premiership with North Ballarat.
Post-season hip surgery put Richardson in a slow, but steady, rehabilitation process. The 24-year-old says he is feeling stronger, week-by-week, as he continues to step up his match fitness with the Selkirk Roosters under the club’s partial alignment with the Kangaroos.
“It’s been pretty hard, especially watching others go through a normal pre-season,” Richardson told The Courier.
“I had hip surgery that went well but I had a longer recovery than anticipated because they had to do a fair bit more than they thought.
“I’ve been trying to get healthier with not much fitness backing ... I’m happy with how I’ve been playing but I’ve still got a long way to go before I’m in contention for an AFL spot.
“Hopefully the next month I can play some good games and be a bit more consistent on the training track and on the ground.
“I just need to get some speed and power back.”
Richardson played eight AFL matches in his debut season and was set to feature strongly in North Ballarat’s VFL finals campaign, only for the Kangaroos to send him in for immediate surgery on the eve of the Roosters’ qualifying final against Williamstown.
The plan was to have Richardson back in full training sooner.
Richardson has instead had a slower than predicted comeback. He built up to play limited minutes in the season opener for the Roosters’ development team and impressed enough to hold VFL senior selection the past five rounds.
This is not the first time hip troubles have limited Richardson’s pre-season.
It happened once before, about five years ago when playing for North Ballarat City but Richardson said he was fine to step back into senior competition straight away.
Elite football – the intensity, training and matches – was completely different.
“(North Melbourne) has been really good trying to get me not to worry too much about the season getting away from me,” Richardson said.
“I’ve been trying to get the most out of training, setting goals and taking things step by step.”
Richardson said it helped that his program included time with his home club North Ballarat where everything and everyone was familiar.
He was hungry to help the Roosters find more success this season. The Roosters have one win from six matches.
“We just need to get a win,” Richardson said.
“We’ve showed we are good but I suppose it’s a trait of a young team to fall away in stages.
“We need to do what Fitzy wants us to do for a full four quarters.”
The Roosters have a bye in the VFL seniors this week, which Richardson said should be a good chance for his body to recharge.
Richardson knows he is improving – he just needs to keep making the most of each week.
Brad Crouch (hamstring) 3-4 weeks
Will Young (shoulder) indefinite
Nick O’Brien (foot) test
Kurt Aylett (knee) indefinite
Stephen Clifton (fractured wrist) 4 weeks
James Frawley (calf) test
David Astbury (knee) 1 week
Mitch Brown (eye) 1-2 weeks