More than half a season spent sitting on the sidelines steeled Kamdyn McIntosh for a crack at a premiership he never dreamt of as a child, but now craves more than anything.
McIntosh, a junior soccer player in the Peel region, didn’t make the switch to Australian Rules until the age of 15, when a change of schools brought about a new set of mates and a different shaped ball to kick.
But the 23-year-old now looms as an important figure in Richmond’s bid to end a 37-year premiership drought against warm favourites Adelaide at the MCG tomorrow.
The outlook was a lot gloomier in May last year when McIntosh, fresh off a strong debut season in 2015, was cut down by an ankle syndesmosis injury.
He managed just six games for the year and was helpless as the Tigers struggled through an eight-win season.
“At one point, I was the only bloke in rehab,” McIntosh recalled.
“It was really hard being by yourself because you wanted to be out there training and having fun with the boys.
“At the same time, you’ve got to sit on the sidelines and work your arse off because you’ve got to get back out there, and you’re doing that by yourself most of the time.
“Especially swimming laps in the pool. You’ve just got your head down grinding away, you’re in there for 40 minutes and thoughts just start going through your head.”
McIntosh made a scintillating debut in 2015, burning off Carlton superstar Chris Judd to kick a team-lifting goal in his first outing at the MCG, and the Pinjarra product’s initial campaign featured a maiden finals appearance. But the stark reality of injuries — the one to his right ankle was a training mishap — hit hard.
“It was disappointing because after debuting in 2015 I wanted to take the next step in my career,” McIntosh said.
“I sat on the sidelines and I couldn’t do much about it apart from getting around the boys and providing some good energy and fun around the club.
“It was hard for me, but I said to myself that I wanted to get my body right by pre-season, which I did, and I wanted to have a red-hot crack at the start of this season and hopefully take that next step.
“I’ve played 23 games this season and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do that after having such a big injury, but I’ve managed to do that and I’m pretty proud of myself.
“But it’s only the start of something big to come, which is hopefully a premiership.”
That flag could be just four quarters away.
If not, McIntosh has at least two more seasons to make the dream a reality after being granted a new contract in July.
And after being denied four months of football last year, he is chasing it with renewed vigour.
“It’s not an easy game. If it was easy, everyone would do it,” McIntosh said.
“I feel that some players could maybe fall into the trap of playing a lot of games consistently and just get complacent and kind of forget about the real world.
“This is a dream job and a lot of people would love to do this.
“I’m not saying I was like that when I was playing, but it (the ankle injury) did give me a bit more motivation to get back into the team, sign another contract and be the player I wanted to be going further into the future.
“It was a bit of an eye-opener to be on the sidelines and not be in the team.
“It really drove me to get back out there and get the best out of myself.
“I think I’m in a really good place at the moment.”