Aaron Sandilands is a hard man to forget.
At 211cm and 120kg, the three-time All-Australian ruckman is one of the most imposing figures in the AFL.
But Fremantle teammate Luke McPharlin says Sandilands’ horror injury run over the last three seasons might have dulled memories about what impact the giant ruckman can have on games.
An impressive pre-season strongly suggests Sandilands is about to remind the league of his skills.
He looms as a massive headache for Collingwood in Friday night’s season opener at Etihad Stadium.
“He’s had a wretched run, the last few years,” McPharlin said.
“A lot of people forgot potentially how good he is.
“In recent weeks, he’s been in super form.
“It gives us an enormous advantage, particularly in the stoppage area of course … we have to capitalise on that.”
Sandilands missed the first half of last season with a hamstring injury.
Captain Matthew Pavlich also had an extended layoff last year because of an achilles problem.
But at the start of this season, Dockers veterans such as Sandilands and Pavlich are fit and ready.
“Particularly to have those senior players available, it’s great for us,” McPharlin said.
By contrast, Collingwood have ruled out key position players Ben Reid and Jesse White because of calf muscle injuries.
“We’ll see what they throw at us, given they have a couple of key talls out,” McPharlin said.
Earlier this week, Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said now was a good time to play Fremantle, given the grand finalists had a delayed start to the pre-season.
But the Dockers are confident they will be ready for Friday night.
“We’re on the money,” McPharlin said.
“The last couple of weeks, our effort and intensity has been where we like it, albeit a little behind on some of the mechanisms and structures.
“So we’ve just been working through that.
“Certainly our effort and intensity, our game fitness, etc, is right where we’d like it to be.”
McPharlin added the pain of losing last year’s grand final to Hawthorn was irrelevant as Fremantle start a season where they are among the premiership favourites.
“We went through a pretty rigorous review process, which went for a couple of weeks,” he said.
“Then we all dealt with, I guess, the psychological elements of it also.
“But since November last year we haven’t really focused on it at all – in our minds, the past is the past and we need to move on.
“At this point in time, we can’t allow any of that to creep into a focus or a mentality.
“We’re back to square one and we need to start again.”