ALLEN Christensen wants to prove Jason Akermanis and other critics wrong after producing the best pre-season of his career.
The Brisbane Lions midfielder has shed nearly five kilos since Akermanis took aim at him last year.
Akermanis was critical of Christensen and small forward Josh Green early last season, saying they didn't look fit enough and "could be a couple of kilos lighter".
Christensen had back surgery when he left Geelong at the end of 2014, forcing him to miss much of the following pre-season.
"Hopefully I won't be getting potted from Jason Akermanis this year," Christensen said on Wednesday.
"Looking back on it now, I probably wasn't in the greatest shape.
"I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt me a little bit.
"All I wanted to do was go out there and try and play my best footy.
"It's in the past now and hopefully I can prove a few people wrong this year."
Despite his slow start to the season, Christensen played 22 games and generally improved as the year wore on.
He averaged 20 disposals a game and kicked 19 goals to finish fifth in the Lions' best and fairest.
One thing the 24-year-old had no troubles doing last season was drawing free kicks, ranking third in the competition behind Joel Selwood and Anthony Miles.
But with draftee Rhys Mathieson now on the Lions' list – coincidentally from the same town of Lara, just outside Geelong – Christensen may no longer even be the best at drawing frees in his own team.
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Mathieson drew six free kicks in his NAB Challenge debut against Gold Coast on Sunday, and Christensen was full of praise for the teenager.
"I think he might be even better at it than me," the former Cat said.
"I hear some bad things over the boundary line - I think he's going to earn some nice ones across the fence from opposition fans (for drawing free kicks).
"I think we've got pretty different techniques in dong it. We'll keep exploiting it as long as the AFL laws allow it."