North Melbourne Kangaroo forward Mason Wood is trying the time-tested method of cutting down on his pre-season training with the expectation of spending more time on the ground when the outcome matters during the 2018 Toyota AFL Premiership competition.
Wood has been with the Roos since 2014 and has an ungrand total of 26 games to show for four seasons.
Saying Wood is injury prone is something like saying that Nick Kyrgios is moody at times, a degree of understatement that underscores the reality that Wood needs to do something other than visit the casualty ward.
It may sound a bit strange to say that doing less in pre-season training is going to help Wood, but the world of sports is replete with stories of players encountering season-ending injuries before any real blood is on the line.
Wood played 10 games last season and was out at various times with leg issues of various descriptions and intensity.
He is just 24, so if he were to find the magic elixir to stay on the ground for at least 20 games in the 2018 AFL season, it would take an enormous amount of pressure off the rest of the senior list.
Wood told the AAP, “I’ve always been really goal-orientated and wanted to do really well in all of the testing, but this time it’s about Round 1 and being fit for the whole year. If you ask any of the boys … (I’ve been a) pre-season king then not made it past Christmas.(So) taking the foot off the gas and making sure that I do make that Round 1 team – making that the focus of pre-season – is all I’ve been trying to do to make sure I can punch out 22-plus games.”
Wood’s is one of those cases of enormous unfulfilled potential, such that the Roos gave him four years in 2016, tying him to the club until the end of 2020.
A healthy Wood might move the Roos up above the 15th rung they occupied at the end of the 2017 season.