Queanbeyan Tigers defender Alec McCormick isn't usually one to get nervous before a game, but sitting in the change rooms at Alan Ray Oval, he just couldn't stave off the butterflies.
McCormick was finally making his return to first grade after an anterior cruciate ligament tear ruled him out of action for over 12 months.
When McCormick leapt for a mark during pre-season of 2016 he was still feeling the rush of premiership success, but when he hit the deck it was nothing but agony.
It was a landing that had McCormick sidelined for over 12 months and ruling him out of Queanbeyan's AFL Canberra premiership defence.
But the likeable larrikin wasn't daunted by the long road ahead, instead just itching to get back on the paddock.
The killer blow from the landing was the fact he doesn't actually remember it because he was knocked out on the way down.
But the horror injury didn't deter him in his return to the top grade against the Ainslie Tricolours in round seven, even if there were a few pre-game jitters.
"It is awesome [to be back], all the hard work I put in over the last 12 plus months is finally paying off," McCormick said.
"I was actually pretty nervous my first game back, which was weird because I am not usually nervous for footy.
"The toughest part about it was watching the grand final last year and feeling helpless as we lost. It is tough to watch your team lose a final and not being able to contribute in any way out on the field."
McCormick's status as one of the club's favourite sons was on show with support coming from all angles as he endured a grinding 12 month rehabilitation process.
Tigers coach Dave Corcoran was rapt with how his key defender bounced back and has backed the 22-year-old to go to another level this season.
"It is often a lonely journey back from a 12 month or long term injury. He is a spiritual leader within our club so he definitely had the boys cheering and supporting him the whole way through," Corcoran said.
"I expect him to be our number one key defender; he will play on the opposition's most dangerous most dangerous key forward.”