A self-confessed injury-prone player will continue his development at home against Wangaratta on Saturday.
Lightning quick Yarrawonga defender James Elliott didn’t hold back when quizzed on why he’d played just nine senior games over the past three seasons.
“I’m the most injury-prone person on this planet I reckon,” he said of his injury-illness battle.
“I’ve had two knee operations, a broken arm and I was really crook at the start of this year with chronic fatigue (syndrome).
“It held me back over the past eight months, I didn’t get in a full pre-season.”
The 23-year-old battled to get out of bed at times.
“Yeah literally, I (only) took two days off work, the first three hours I was productive and then the rest, I was like, no,” he said.
“I’m mainly over it now, I’ve still got the end of it to shake off, but I’m back playing footy, which is the main goal I’ve had.”
It certainly hasn’t impacted his blistering pace.
Elliott was clocked at 2.7 seconds for 20m over summer.
It compares with any AFL player in the past 15 years.
Former Port Adelaide and current Fremantle player Danyle Pearce clocked 2.79secs at the AFL Draft Combine in 2004.
At 186cms and 83kgs, Elliott needs that pace to counter the league’s big forwards, such as Lavington’s Adam Prior, who he opposed early last month.
“One of my biggest strengths would be my closing speed,” he said.
“I like to play off them a little bit because if I play one-on-one, they’re obviously going to throw me off.
“I don’t have the best leap as well, but I think my ability to catch them and get that body contact while they’re leading is what I base my game on.”
Interestingly, Elliott believes his Pigeons’ team-mate Ely Smith has just broken his sprint records at Yarrawonga’s Sacred Heart College.
Unfortunately for the Pigeons, Smith won’t tackle the premiers as he’s rested following under 18 representative duties.
Elliott will be in line to mark Pies’ spearhead Michael Newton, although that job could go to a handful of players, including Logan Morey.
Realistically, Yarrawonga’s top three hopes will depend on toppling Wangaratta.
The Pigeons sit in fourth place, a win behind both Wangaratta and Wodonga Raiders.
Raiders should beat Wodonga, so the home team faces the prospect of falling two wins behind with just five rounds left.
The Pigeons also face the toughest run home of the three outfits.