A bulked-up Kieran Ellis is on track to put 21 months of frustration behind him when Albury hosts the season opener against Yarrawonga.
A vital member of Albury's miserly defence in the grand final win over Wangaratta three years ago, the second half of Ellis's 2019 season was wiped out by a hamstring injury.
Given last year was written off by COVID-19, it means Ellis won't have played a game since June 22, 2019.
The Tigers will kick off the highly anticipated year in a Saturday twilight game on March 27.
"When I first did against (Wangaratta) Rovers it was a grade three hamstring and then when I tried to come back and did it at training, it was a grade two," Ellis revealed.
"It was just how bad I did it, it was a tight timeline to get back and play good footy before finals and then the second time it was a tight timeline to get back for that semi against Myrtleford."
Considering what the world has been through in the past 12 months, Albury's straight sets exit from the 2019 finals, after winning seven of the 10 successive grand finals it had contested prior to that, seems like ancient history, but the proud club will be determined to show it was a blip on the radar and not the start of a decline.
Interestingly, Ellis played his last game at 83kgs, but is hoping to strip at 90 against the Pigeons.
IN OTHER NEWS:
"I'm 92 now and it was just through COVID, I was doing home workouts and was sitting and working at home and deliberately not running to try and put a little bit of weight on before pre-season, it kind of kept going and going," he explained of his lockdown regime in Melbourne.
I ... was sitting and working at home and deliberately not running to try and put a little bit of weight on.Kieran Ellis
"I was trying to balance it with the amount of running, but just kept the weight, I thought it would all strip back off.
"Yeah, I think I probably did need it, I guess it depends where I'm playing as well, I'll play the practice matches and play a few positions and see where I fit."