Kane Keppel played his first game in over seven months on the weekend for the Northern Blues. (PHOTO CREDIT: Northern Blues Football Club)
Saturday marked a successful return to action for Kane Keppel.
Playing his first game in over seven months, Keppel made the trip with Northern down to Tasmania to take on Box Hill.
It was Keppel’s first game since suffering a fractured fibula against Footscray in August last year.
In the wash-up of the game, Keppel said it was “extremely exciting” to be back involved playing for the Blues.
“Just being involved with the boys and getting back into the routine of game day showed me how much I’ve missed it,” Keppel said.
“Also to travel as a whole squad was really beneficial, and gave us the taste of what the preparation is like at AFL level: it was a great experience.”
On managed game-time, Keppel picked up eight disposals playing exclusively in the back half.
Pleasingly, the second-year Blue said he had gotten through his return game without any troubles.
“I pulled up very well, I was looked after with only half a game,” Keppel said.
“It was very tiring in the moment, considering how difficult it is to get match fit solely through training. But the ankle held up very well.”
One of a dozen Blues returning for the new season, the Box Hill game was still a new frontier for Keppel.
The 20-year-old said he liked what he saw from a number of the 11 teammates he was playing alongside for the first time.
“‘JJ’ [Jordan Johnston] impressed me with the presentation he gave out of the forward line and the marks he was taking,” Keppel said.
“It was also great seeing someone like [Carlton rookie] Cillian McDaid show some good signs seeing as it’s only his second game of football.”
While expressing his delight at being back, Keppel was clear that the individual and team had a lot to work on after a 40-point loss.
Senior coach @jfraser17 gives his reaction of who impressed as well as the room for improvement after yesterday's 40-point loss in Launceston.
— Northern Blues FC (@NBluesFC) March 11, 2018
“The overriding message of the game was challenging the consistency side of our game in the contest: a lot of learning should be taken it,” Keppel said.
“I’ve spent a lot of time preparing to get back: to start moving forward with my game now that I’m back, I want to build my fitness and hone my skills by hand and foot.”
The Northern Blues’ home-and-away season gets underway on Saturday, April 7 against Collingwood at Preston City Oval.