North Melbourne skipper Jack Ziebell admits his injuries had some effect on his game last season, but says he now feels better than he has in two years.
Ziebell, who will captain the Kangaroos again next season, led by example in 2017 as he played through the pain barrier.
The 26-year-old concedes there were times when he wouldn't have played, had there been enough cover for him in the squad. But he didn't want to let the Kangaroos down in his first year as skipper so he continued through a broken collarbone, cracked ribs and a severely injured toe.
Ziebell managed to feature in 19 games, taking his overall tally to 166, but when the season was over he had to have surgery on his toe.
"Being in a position of leadership, you want to set the example in every instance you can," he said. "Probably, at times ... if there were guys fit, ready to play at the time, I might not have played.
"But, in saying that, I wanted to play every game I could. I've missed a lot of football early in my career and I've forever said to myself that I'd have to be pretty injured to not play ... but it probably did have an impact on how I was playing towards the back end of the year."
He was kept off the track for most of the pre-Christmas training block following his toe surgery.
The tough midfielder, who rejoined the main group on Monday, regards himself as fitter now than he has been in the previous two pre-seasons.
Speaking of his expectations for the coming campaign he said: "I really enjoy the forward line. Not many players don't like kicking goals, so if you can get one or two, we enjoy that."
Ed Vickers-Willis (ankle), Marley Williams (back), Sam Wright (ankle) and Declan Watson (knee) sat out the opening training session of 2018 for the Kangaroos.
North Melbourne are 1212/1 to win the Grand Final and 7/1 to finish in the top eight.
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