LACHIE Henderson is confident he can recapture the form that made him a mainstay of the Geelong defence in 2016-17 after being thrown an AFL lifeline by the club in Friday’s Rookie Draft.
The 29-year-old veteran of 171 games at the Cats, Carlton and the Brisbane Lions thought he had played his last match in the Hoops in the preliminary final loss to Richmond.
However, Geelong used its third and final selection, which it had planned to re-draft contracted big man Ryan Abbott with, on Henderson after Abbott took an offer to join St Kilda last week.
“I knew that the delisting was coming, but there was always the chance I could go back,” Henderson revealed.
“There were no promises made, but I was fine with that. I said to them, “look if you want me back, I’ll come back and give you all I’ve got. But if you don’t, I’ll be on my merry way”.
“We’ve in open dialogue the whole time. I was happy with the position I was in, and they were, too.”
With the potential of a return, Henderson has been training by himself to stay in shape.
“Being in the system for as long as I’ve been, I know I don’t need to be fully fit right now; it is only November,” he said.
“But, I’ve been doing a fair bit. I’ve just come back from an overseas trip with James Parsons and Jed Bews, and we did a fair bit over there.
“I’m as fit as I need to be right now and I’ll get cracking back into it on Monday.”
After 15 games with the Lions and 102 at the Blues, Henderson featured in 41 of a possible 49 matches across his first two seasons at GMHBA Stadium.
However, injuries, including a knee issue that wiped out a majority of his 2018 season, and form have kept him to just 13 games over the last two years.
“The knee was nagging for a fair bit there, but, to be honest, at the end of the year the knee was feeling the best it has for a very long time,” Henderson said.
“It was a frustrating 2018-2019 with injuries and little things that have happened.
“I think this year was unlucky with injury and the year before that was the knee.
“So, I am very confident a good, solid, smart pre-season is the start for everyone to make sure they can get through the rigours of a full season.”
However, Henderson is also aware it won’t be easy breaking into what was the AFL’s No.1 ranked defence in terms of points conceded this year.
“I’m sort of just insurance at the moment; the 22 is pretty set,” he said.
“We’ve got a very solid backline, and we’ve brought in young (Sam) De Koning, that’s going to be a very good player as well.
“I am insurance, but I’m definitely not looking at it like that.
“If I can get myself fit and firing, I’ll be more than ready to go.”