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'Forgotten' defender joins Saints' weighting game

Hugh Goddard tries to break a Seb Ross tackle at pre-season training - AFL,Injuries,St Kilda Saints,Hugh Goddard
Hugh Goddard tries to break a Seb Ross tackle at pre-season training

FORGOTTEN St Kilda defender Hugh Goddard has been stuck in the "isolating place" that is rehab for much of the past two years, but is now leaner and ready to deliver.

Losing weight has been a theme at the Saints, with coach Alan Richardson conceding a few players had been too heavy in 2017.

Mav Weller has dropped eight kilograms while Shane Savage is five kilograms lighter, and Goddard, 21, has followed them in trimming down.

"I've lost a little bit of weight over the break as well. It seems to be the AFL trend at the moment. I probably was a little bit heavy and had a bit of 'puppiness' with me," Goddard said.

"I feel like I've really been able to adapt my body to what's required. Trimming down has really helped my running. I'm really trying to get that speed back into my body."

After suffering a torn Achilles tendon in his left leg in June 2016, then turf toe in his right foot 364 days later, the cousin of Essendon star Brendon is trying to work back to his elite speed.

Prior to being drafted, he posted 2.98 seconds in the 20m sprint. That's an impressive time – even more so for someone who stands 196cm.

"After all injuries you don't always come back 100 per cent, but I feel like I'm pretty confident with the speed I've got and the endurance, but that's always something I can improve," Goddard said.

"Speed is definitely something I want to continue to improve, so I think that's been helped by losing a couple of kilos."

Going through that period, with essentially back-to-back serious injuries, was tough.

"There's no denying it can be a bit of an isolating place, rehab world," Goddard said.

The ruptured Achilles tendon came from an innocuous incident. Goddard went to change direction and crumpled to the ground. Surgery followed and he was out for 10 months.

Goddard returned and managed eight games in the VFL and VFL reserves before flying for a spoil and having all 108kg of Collingwood big man Mason Cox land on his foot. Another operation was required.

"It was just one of those real freaky, weird things that shouldn't happen but did. You've just got to cop it on the chin and get on with it," Goddard said.

He's been back since the first day of pre-season and has done just about everything, a very welcome change.

Goddard was drafted at No.21 in 2014 and many hold high hopes for him. He is in the last year of his contract but the backman said that did not concern him.

"It's out of your control. I just want to make the most of this year. I've put a lot of things in place to ensure that I'm giving everything I can," Goddard said.

"I won't be taking my opportunity for granted ever again. Not that I did, but just with the last two years I had, I'm making sure I'm doing everything I can to give myself the best opportunity and letting the rest take care of itself."

St Kilda bolstered its key defensive stocks by trading for Logan Austin from Port Adelaide and drafting Oscar Clavarino at No.35.

That might have been seen as a bad sign for Goddard but he said that did not worry him. 

"It didn't really faze me. Obviously the club has a specific goal for the future and I guess with the injuries that I've had, maybe that was the thinking behind it," Goddard said.

"I'm not too fussed at all. I can only control what I can control."