I've been feeling pretty good through the three games I've played
NORTH MELBOURNE talisman Daniel Wells is pleasantly surprised by how much he has played in the AFL pre-season, and says he's 100 per cent ready for the Kangaroos' round-one clash with Collingwood.
Wells was nursed through the pre-season due to achilles and calf issues which emerged late in his superb 2012.
But the 28-year-old midfielder, no stranger to injury and illness interrupting his career, says this time it's been different.
Wells surprised North's medical staff and himself by playing three practice matches, showing no signs of injury and, importantly, recovering well after each.
"It caught me (by surprise) a little bit playing three games. Prior to that I wasn't going to play the first one at least, but it (the injury) recovered really quickly," Wells said.
"I've been feeling pretty good through the three games I've played, had a bit of a freshen-up last week and I'm ready to go.
"Now I find myself ready for round one - no problems at all.
"I'm still able to twist and turn like I did last year, which is important to my game."
Wells has delivered on his undoubted potential for the past two seasons - backing up a stellar 2011 with a consistent 2012 after being selected as the No.2 draft pick in 2002.
Wells, skipper Brent Harvey and the experienced Drew Petrie and Michael Firrito have for so long been North's mainstays - something the explosive midfielder believes is set to change this season with the Kangaroos' emerging talent.
"We're a real even team now," Wells said.
"The midfielders are all very similar (in ability). We've all got our own little attributes but we gel really well together and we like to play a good team brand of footy.
"The boys are a bit older, a bit stronger. The real big jump you're going to get is from (Ryan) Bastinac, (Kieran) Harper, (Shaun) Atley, (Jamie) MacMillan - these sort of names. That's where we're really going to improve, I think."
North's first test is Sunday's Etihad Stadium clash with Collingwood, consistent recent finalists and a team the Kangaroos beat in their impressive late-season charge to the 2012 finals.
"They've been a good side for a long time ... we've had a lot of trouble against them over the years and last year was the first time in a while we've beaten them," Wells said.
"But every year's different. I'm sure they'll be pretty confident going into the game, just like we are as well."