COLLINGULLIE-Glenfield Park will start their 2017 campaign without the services of captain-coach Luke Gestier as he takes a cautious approach to his return from a knee injury.
It has not even been 12 months since Gestier underwent a knee reconstruction after he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his first game for Ovens and Murray League club Lavington.
Gestier has been training since the Demons started pre-season last year and has gradually increased the workload on his knee.
He initially eyed a round one return but is now prepared to sit out, at most, the first month to ensure the knee is 100 per cent.
“The knee’s been good and I’ve been able to get consistency in training,” Gestier said.
“It’s just the contested side of things at the moment, going flat strap, I haven’t got passed that hurdle. I’ve been in a few contests and it hasn’t been fantastic.
“So I’ve scaled back my return, I can’t put a timeline on it but it will be in that first month.”
Gestier said it was important to look at the big picture and not get drawn into the excitement surrounding the start of the season.
“I’m also aware it’s a big year,” he said.
“If I don’t get back until round four or five, it’s a long year and there is plenty of water to go under the bridge.
“I’m confident in our group getting early wins on the board so we’re in a position where I don’t have to rush back.”
The Demons begin their season on Sunday when they take on Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong at Ganmain Sportsground.
Gestier will miss, along with Justin Simmons, who is unavailable due to representative duties with the Army.
Premiership ruckman Chris Jackson will return for the round one clash, while accomplished full-forward Marc Geppert will play his first game in red and white colours since 2013.
“We’ll be relatively close to full-strength, just missing one or two,” he said.
The Demons third trial game, where they were scheduled to meet AFL Canberra club Belconnen, was cancelled by mutual agreement from both clubs.
Gestier is not concerned and believes the Demons will be more than ready for Sunday’s season opener against the Lions.
“I thought it might (be a concern) to start but once again, it’s a long year and I’m confident in our training and what we’ve done,” he said.
“We’ve had a big three week block and I’m confident we’ve done the training.”