Lions football manager David Noble said the club had been lucky not to have suffered from collision injuries which the best planning and preparation cannot avoid.
“It is extraordinary to have basically no one go in for surgery immediately after the season. A bit later on Adams had a little cleanout [minor knee sugery] and Christensen had a small procedure on his back but they were the only two,” Noble said.
“The medical and conditioning staff have done a really good job and w have been lucky with collision injuries which helps because you just can’t avoid those.”
The club’s physio and conditioning staff focus on being patient with all players and aim to have all players on the track after Christmas, unfazed if they are limited before the new year.
Noble stressed the club was not presuming to think they had all the answers to getting every player fit but said that fitness also became self-perpetuating as evidence suggested that players who could complete at least 80 per cent of a pre-season were less likely to get injured than players who have limited pre-seasons.
Veteran recruit Grant Birchall has been managed through the pre-season, and has often been in the rehab group along with young players Toby Wooller and Tom Joyce.
He said that with players coming off a healthy season last year they hadn’t lost their condition and so carried that fitness level into the pre-season.
The obvious counter-point to that last year was Melbourne which famously had 17 players in for surgery at the end of 2018, which had a huge impact on 2019 as they slid down the ladder.
Noble said Alex Witherden, Cam Rayner and Rhys Mathieson were the players who looked most obviously fitter while Eric Hipwood was stronger and had added five kilograms in weight but was still such a lean shape that it was difficult to detect the difference.
The Lions play Port Adelaide in a Marsh Series match on Sunday.
Michael Gleeson is an award-winning senior sports writer specialising in AFL and athletics.