Justin McInerney is enjoying every minute of the 2022 pre-season after a lower back injury had him on a modified program last pre-season.
After recovering from his injury, the 21-year old played 21 games in 2021 and is looking to continue the form which saw him earn a second AFL Rising Star nomination last season after also being nominated in his debut season in 2020.
The speedy midfielder is lapping up every moment both on and off the field with his teammates and is looking forward to season 2022.
“This is my first pre-season in a while. It’s been great to get out there with the boys, improve my strength and enjoy that continuity,” says McInerney.
“My pre-season is going well, I’m staying fit and haven’t missed too many sessions. I’ve been playing at halfback and wing-mid so it’s been good to enjoy a bit of change and move around a bit. You need to be a bit adaptable and play wherever the team needs you.”
McInerney said the easing of Covid-19 restrictions and opening of state borders over the summer has allowed players to build stronger connections , which will in turn strengthen their performances come game time.
“With borders opening up it was great for us to be able to train as a group rather than be separated in different states in the lead up to Christmas (with the exception of the WA guys)," McInerney said.
"We also got to enjoy a lot more pre-season dinners together, go round to other guys houses for down time, and just spend a lot of time together. The first-to-four year players returned to training pre-Christmas which allowed us to really get to know them a bit better before the rest of the squad returned.”
McInerney believes the team fell just short of their full potential in 2021, but says there was plenty of positives to take away from the season.
“I think we took a lot of confidence as a group out of the season that we can match it with the best," McInerney said.
"We were only a percentage out of the top four so we take a lot of confidence out of that and use it as a stepping stone to keep building."
Going into his third season McInerney, who has played 31 games in the red and white, is taking in all he can from the more experienced heads around him.
"Playing down back last year I was able to work with Harry Cunningham and Jake Lloyd and it really helped me with my game," McInerney said.
"Even working with younger players like Errol Gulden on the wing, he’s such a had worker, he loves watching vision, it’s just great to be around players like that. You’re also always learning off the senior players like Josh Kennedy, Bud (Lance Franklin) and Paps (Tom Papley) and soaking up their knowledge of the game which is invaluable.”
After a solid pre-season McInerney is now looking ahead to the Swans practices match in Albury on February 25 against the Giants and against the Kangaroos on March 6 at Giants Stadium and also playing in front of the red and white faithful.
“It will be good to be able to work on our ball movement against other defences rather than just having intra-club games against ourselves," McInerney said.
"I can’t wait to get down to Albury. It’s just great to visit other areas and meet different fans from around NSW. It also great to hopefully bring more members and fans on board by visiting these areas and getting them behind us.
"Playing with fans in the stands, it’s why you play. You see the joy on their faces, even when you’re seeing someone after the game after a win or a loss, to see the joy you bring them is great. We play for each other, we play for the fans, and we love being out there and we can’t wait to see them back in the stands this year.”