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New deal is next 'stepping stone' for Saint

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Hugh Goddard was back in the big time against Hawthorn - AFL,Hugh Goddard,St Kilda Saints
Hugh Goddard was back in the big time against Hawthorn

STEP one for out-of-contract St Kilda defender Hugh Goddard was returning to the elite level.

It took 805 days, but he managed that in the four-point loss to Hawthorn last Saturday night at Etihad Stadium.

In round 11, 2016, Goddard tore the Achilles tendon in his left leg against Adelaide at Adelaide Oval. The following year, turf toe in his right foot sidelined him.

The wait, as Goddard said, was a "journey", and after spending so long sidelined, it took time to return to his physical best and be more than a dour stopper.

"In terms of gaining confidence in my body, through the first half of this season I probably was just focusing on beating my man, but after that I really started to take the game on," Goddard told AFL.com.au.

"I got some great confidence from different people in terms of going for my marks and taking the game on. That's when I started to really build some form and really started enjoying my footy.

"Hopefully (Saturday night) was a good stepping stone."

Step two is earning a new deal.

Of the Saints' regular key backmen Nathan Brown is suspended, but Jake Carlisle is expected to return from a sore back against North Melbourne on Sunday.

If Goddard is selected for that clash, he will have one more chance to influence the thinking of St Kilda's list management committee when it decides whether to offer him a new deal.

 

Goddard, who turns 22 on Friday, knows that's the case, but he said it isn't overwhelming his thinking.

"I don't really focus on that. I think that's out of my control," Goddard said.

"All I can do is just focus on the game and just dig deep and play my best footy, and I felt like I did that (against the Hawks)."

Having been absent for so long made him appreciate being back as he notched up his 10th career match.

"It's been a journey. I saw a little stat before – it's been (805) days since my last game," Goddard said.

"It took a while to get into the game, but I'm just so grateful for the opportunity tonight and it's great being back out there with the boys. All the hard work's paid off now and I just want to keep enjoying it."