West Coast Eagles top draft pick Daniel Vanables is thrilled to be playing football again after making slow progress since arriving at Eagles HQ in November.
After being drafted with pick No. 13 in last year’s ballot, Venables has been nursed through his rookie pre-season as he endeavoured to overcome a foot injury he sustained in mid-2016.
In spite of only playing 60 minutes of footbal for East Perth's reserves on Saturday, Venables said he thoroughly enjoyed his first game in the West.
“It was pretty fun. It was my first game since June, so it was pretty exciting for me,” Venables said.
“I wasn’t nervous, just excited I got to play, I’ve been getting held back a bit.
“That has been frustrating, but all the boys have got around me and I know the club has my best interests at heart.
“We all know that it’s a slow burn with me, which is the best thing to do; everyone is being patient.
“Even though 60 minutes is not a lot of time, I still had fun out there and it was good just to play alongside my teammates.”
Vanables amassed 14 disposals (10 contested), five clearances and a goal against East Fremantle on Saturday and says he will take a few weeks to adjust to the intensity of the game.
“It was the ‘football running’ that felt a bit rusty more than anything,” he said.
“I was blowing hard pretty early. I think it’ll take a few weeks for me to start getting back into the kick of things, the game style and game awareness.”
The 18-year-old's program will continue to progress slowly over the next month as he works his way to full fitness.
“My weeks at the moment are different to everyone else’s. I’m training a bit more but playing less,” Venables explained.
“I’ll be playing reduced minutes for the next few weeks, just building slowly in the reserves until I get up to full-game minutes.
“Once I get there I’m sure we’ll look to build on that and get full loads in on game day and at training.
“I’m in a good headspace and I’m just happy to be back playing footy.”