MERCURIAL Geelong midfielder Steve Motlop has returned to pre-season training in 'really good shape', according to superstar teammate Patrick Dangerfield.
After a runner-up finish in the 2015 best and fairest, Motlop struggled with consistency this year and was put up for trade by the Cats, but there were no suitors.
Motlop, who returned from holidays out of shape last year, cut a lean figure at Simonds Stadium on Wednesday.
"Steve's in really good shape, which is really good to see," Dangerfield said.
"He's one of the best players in the competition when he plays at his best so we need that and we need it consistently and I'm confident he'll be able to do that."
Meanwhile, Geelong's ignominious end to the 2016 season still doesn't sit well with Dangerfield and the Brownlow medallist has demanded a lift across the board.
The Cats' premiership tilt was effectively over at quarter-time of the preliminary final after Sydney's devastating seven-goals-to-nil opening blitz.
Dangerfield admitted the manner of the resounding defeat still irks him as the club's full playing list came together for pre-season training.
"I think it will be in the back of the mind for a fair while ... it was a bitterly disappointing way to finish the season, but we look forward to 2017," Dangerfield said.
"I'd be lying if I said it wasn't in the back of my mind, but we need to look forward."
Dangerfield, who was the runaway Brownlow Medal winner just days after the Cats' finals exit, still has areas of his game he wants to improve.
But he and midfield partner Joel Selwood could barely have done much more against the Swans, gathering 39 disposals each.
The superstar agreed a more even contribution was required for his side to be a legitimate challenger.
"I think we all need to share the load better ... we need to perform better for each other," he said.
"We were too inconsistent when we really required our very best at the pointy end of the season.
"The good teams perform consistently and that's what we need to strive to get to.
"Other teams around us are improving as well ... GWS, Sydney and the Western Bulldogs – I'm sure they're not resting on their laurels."