Dayne Beams admits the third time he injured his quadricep muscle in 2013, he started worrying about his AFL career.
The Collingwood midfielder will play his 100th game this Saturday against West Coast at the MCG.
He is back to full fitness and strong form this year and has not missed a game.
But last season was a disaster.
Beams only managed eight games after a basic quad injury kept recurring.
“Once that third time came around it was pretty dark for me,” he said.
“I didn’t know when I was ever going to be back playing and they (physios) went the ultra conservative approach after the third time.
“They trained me like I had a mini-ACL (knee reconstruction).
“You’ve got a set program and it dosesn’t matter how you’re feeling.”
Last year’s trials made Beams a big believer in “pre-hab” – making sure his body is as injury-proof as possible.
It was the low point in a rollercoaster career that so far has featured the 2010 premiership and his breakout 2012 season, when he won the club best and fairest award and made the All-Australian team.
Beams said star teammates such as captain Scott Pendlebury and Luke Ball had been crucial in helping him make the transition to a full-time midfielder two years ago.
“It took me a little bit of time to understand what it takes to play AFL (at) a consistent level,” he said.
“I’ve had really good role models around me – I’ve got probably two of the most professional guys I’ve seen in Bally (Luke Ball) and Pendles (Scott Pendlebury).
“When my opportunity came in 2012 to play permanently in the midfield, I think I was prepared to do that.”
At Thursday’s media conference, Beams was also prepared for questions about his younger brother Claye, who plays for Brisbane.
Claye set Dayne up in the media this week, saying he’s a mummy’s boy and was a terror of a child.
In response, Dayne called his younger brother a goose.
“He always lived with Mum, I think he slept with Mum until he was about 12,” Dayne said.
“He’s a sook.
“I told him I was going to make up a few lines about him … I will have the last laugh.”