ST KILDA defender Sam Fisher feels like "a new draftee" after an injury-free summer and is ready to help steady the Saints' backline in 2015.
Fisher has managed just 16 games in the past two years while battling injuries, but after successful toe surgery and his hamstring issues now solved, has enjoyed a strong pre-season.
On Saturday he was one of the better players in the Saints' intra-club match at Seaford, controlling the back half, directing the play and cutting off forward entries.
Become a Saints member TODAY! Click HERE or call 1300 467 246.
While he feared his career could have ended with the toe surgery, the 32-year-old signed a one-year contract extension and has got through the pre-season training program seamlessly.
"It was good to get a hit-out [on Saturday]. I've had a pretty good pre-season so far injury-wise, so it makes a bit of a difference when you get some consistency and continuity with your training and you go into the season feeling good and fit," Fisher said after Saturday's game at Seaford.
"I've obviously had a few troubles over the last couple of years but you do the work and preparation and therefore you can walk off the ground feeling pretty good."
RELATED: Paddy McCartin impresses in intra-club
Although his many injuries have meant he has headed into recent seasons with fitness concerns, Fisher's limited appearances have at least had some positive impact, with the dual best and fairest winner saying he was feeling refreshed.
"It's hard to catch up if you miss chunks of foot - it just makes it so much harder to perform at your best and to maintain your match fitness," he said.
"It's really important to get a good pre-season under your belt. To get that means you get the best opportunity to have a good season.
"From a mental side of things I'm pretty fresh and haven't had to back up each week mentally. I feel like a new draftee."
As the Saints look to push off the bottom of the ladder this year, plenty will be expected of the youth on the club's list.
However, Fisher knows some responsibility still rests with the Saints' senior batch of players, and feels he has a role to play to overlook the backline.
"The young guys need some older heads and some composure and leadership down there," he said.
"We've got some real options there and it's probably our most experienced group – the back six – so we really need to drive the team defence right across the ground."
Hugh Goddard, who was pick 21 at last year's NAB AFL Draft, played well in the intra-club, showing some size and strength in defence.
Fisher has taken a liking to the 18-year-old, saying he has some similar competitive instincts to his cousin, former Saints star and current Bomber, Brendon Goddard.
"He's a really competitive guy. He hates getting beaten. I've taken him under my wing a fair bit, and he's been really proactive in coming in and wanting to watch vision and has a willingness to learn," he said.
"He reminds me a lot of Brendon Goddard, the way he can get a bit angry. He's a chip off the old block. I look forward to working with him over the next couple of years that I've hopefully got left."