Pre-season number 10 is in full swing for Lin Jong, who says his passion to play AFL football is as strong as ever.
The 27-year-old has been hampered by injuries the past two years, playing three games in 2020 either side of hamstring and ankle issues.
But that brief taste of senior football has him confident he can play an important role for the Western Bulldogs in 2021 if he gets the opportunity.
Now back into full training after the ankle surgery that ended his year, Jong is building momentum.
“It’s been nice to have that routine again, especially after last year (with the hubs) with that shadow of unknown and not really knowing what was going to happen,” Jong told westernbulldogs.com.au
“I’m coming off a modified off-season... Two weeks ago was the first main session I’ve done in about half a year, after the ankle injury.
“I just want to keep enjoying my footy.
“I don’t like to put too much pressure on myself and set goals I can’t control. It might be a bit cheesy, but I’m just trying to enjoy it as much as I can, especially after last season and knowing how quickly your year can finish up.”
Jong went more than 660 days without playing at the highest level, before slotting back in seamlessly in round two last year against the Saints.
“(At the time) I didn’t realise how many days it had been since I last played an AFL game,” he said.
“It was short-lived, but it gave me that passion and fire to keep pushing to play the highest level I can.”
As a 10-year veteran in red, white and blue, Jong is one of the Kennel’s most experienced players, despite the fact he’s been limited to 64 AFL games in that time.
That experienced tag has been reinforced to him this pre-season.
“Easton Wood has made a point of it – because I keep bagging him about how old he is,” Jong said with a laugh.
“I’m still not in my 30s, so I’ve got that on him.
“This is year number 10, so it’s more than a third of my life I’ve been here which is pretty special.”
Jong has noticed a difference this pre-season from previous years, with a noticeable change in the playing group on its return to training.
He’s hopeful that could lead to big things this year.
“This is the fittest I’ve ever seen the group come back from the off-season,” Jong said.
“Whether that’s because some boys couldn’t travel, or we ramped up our off-season program a bit, everyone’s really taken it upon themselves because it’s competitive for spots.
“We’re all headed in the right direction together.”