“I knew our first six games were pretty tough so I hated missing the first three,” Ward said. “Rounds one and three were pretty easy to watch, because we won, but round two against West Coast over there, watching on the TV was tough, to be honest.”
Ward, 29, hadn’t missed an AFL game since 2014 until the injury, one of few he has suffered throughout his career. But he had completed the full pre-season up until that point and is confident that body of fitness work will hold him in good stead as he seeks to make an immediate impact.
“I’ve never really had an injury like this before so it’s hard to know how I’ll come back but I’ve been doing some good training loads and training really well. I feel really confident in my knee,” he said.
Ward comes into the GWS team that smashed Richmond last week at the expense of Tommy Sheridan (calf) in the only change made by coach Leon Cameron.
He slots into one of the competition’s form midfield units, led by Stephen Coniglio, Josh Kelly, young guns Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper and enforcer Matt de Boer, who brilliantly shut down Tigers superstar Dustin Martin and will seek to replicate the same niggling tactics against one of the top ballwinners from Geelong, who are No.2 in the competition for contested possessions.
Ward said the Giants’ poor return from away matches hadn’t been discussed internally, but it probably doesn’t need to be – it’s one of the most glaring areas where GWS need to lift if they are to take the next step in the finals.
Their last three defeats have all been on the road against West Coast, Collingwood and Melbourne – all teams in the premiership mix, perhaps with the exception of the struggling Demons. A statement victory in Geelong would go a long way towards cementing GWS’s credentials.
“The good thing is we always do perform well at our home ground, so we just need to match that everywhere else,” Ward said. “I don’t think it’s something we need to speak about – we just need to get better really.
“Geelong are playing some extremely good footy at the moment – they’re probably the in-form team in the competition, they’ve got some young guys playing some really good roles and all their older guys are playing some good footy as well. It’s going to be tough but I feel we’re in pretty good form too.”
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.