Jasper Pittard has added 15kg to his frame since being drafted
PORT Adelaide's Jasper Pittard knows frustration better than most.
A highly talented junior footballer, Pittard was drafted by the Power with pick No.16 at the 2009 AFL Draft and, shortly after making his debut, was rewarded with a nomination for the 2011 Rising Star Award.
However, just when Pittard looked set to take the football world by the scruff of the neck, injury cruelled him.
Persistent hamstring issues dogged the second half of his 2011 season and kept him to just one AFL game last year; in that match he ran into teammate Chad Wingard and was forced to catch the train home from Darwin with a cracked rib and a collapsed lung.
On the eve of his fourth AFL season, Pittard appears to be in the best shape of his career. He looks strong, he looks fit and he looks a young man ready to make up for lost time.
"My first three years I had issues with a few injuries and, being young, we often get guided through pre-season, this has been the first time I've been treated as one of the main group guys and I've just been able to do everything," Pittard said.
"It's been a good feeling [that] I've been able to get to the end of the pre-season knowing I've done a lot of hard work and got through it.
"I put a lot of expectation on myself usually, but I've pulled that back a little bit, I just wanted to go week by week and session by session.
"Pittard has added an impressive 15kg to his 186cm frame since being drafted as a skinny 68kg kid just over three years ago.
It hasn't slowed him down though and on Friday night in the Power's trial against the Port Adelaide Magpies, Pittard consistently mopped up in defence and sent the ball back into attack.
"I think my body's really handling the weight better now that I'm probably a bit more mature," Pittard said.
"[The trial] was probably a good starting block for myself and the team to really give it a good crack against some AFL opposition this week."
Given his philosophy on his injury-ravaged career, it's clear Pittard's mind has matured along with his body.
As frustrating as the constant setbacks have been for the left-footer, he said he'd learned valuable lessons during his rehab and hoped it would help prevent further hiccups in the future.
"You've got to turn those negatives into a positive somehow and I've tried to learn as much as I can from being really strong in rehab and keeping mentally fresh when times are tough," he said.
"You learn a lot also from the rehab coaches, little ways you can add to your training and stuff like that.
"I've got an opportunity now to try and string some games together and I'll just use what I've learned from injuries to hopefully not get injured again."
Jasper Pittard is a $132,600 defender in NAB AFL Fantasy. He averaged nine points in 2012. Register your team at our AFL Fantasy Hub.