COLLINGWOOD young gun Jaidyn Stephenson expected to miss round one selection after a summer marred by glandular fever.
Stephenson was the major omission from the Magpies' team for their season opener against the Western Bulldogs, which they won by 52 points at Marvel Stadium three weeks ago.
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His absence raised some eyebrows but the 21-year-old saw his non-selection coming.
"It wasn't really a shock to me – I was expecting it," Stephenson told Channel Nine on Sunday.
"Obviously, I didn't have the greatest of pre-seasons with the glandular fever pre-Christmas, and then I came back and probably did only four weeks of full training with the group.
"I also had to withdraw from the Wangaratta match against Richmond (Collingwood's first Marsh Community Series game) due to some personal reasons, so it wasn't the greatest set-up.
"But I think I was doing everything right and (was) on my way and hopefully would have been in the side very shortly."
Stephenson confirmed he had fully recovered from his pre-season illness and was completing gym work at his parents' home and running every second day to improve his conditioning.
The third-year forward's goal is to break into the team for whenever round two is, once the AFL season resumes from the coronavirus-inflicted break.
Coach Nathan Buckley said after the victory over the Bulldogs that Stephenson would "get his shot" at some stage.
"Jaidyn's probably been in fits and spurts in his pre-season and we'd like to get more game time in but he's going to have to do that through training and load through training," Buckley said.
"But, quite frankly, there were other players who were in better shape this week to take the mantle and have earned their opportunities in front of him.
"We know we will have to share the load as the season progresses and … he's looking to earn his opportunity and will work for the betterment of the team once he gets that chance."
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Stephenson also rebuked former Magpies coach Mick Malthouse's suggestion for the season to start again without the games already played, saying it would be "silly to scrap it".
On a more light-hearted note, he detailed the story behind his recent viral Instagram video, where he hit a golf ball off a tee inserted in his friend's bum.
"It was his idea," Stephenson said with a grin.
"He just goes, 'How about if I lie down and you just put the tee in between my bum cheeks and you hit the ball off it' and I said, 'I'm not much of a golfer but I'll give it a crack'.
"It came off pretty well."
Stephenson also did his best Tom Cruise impersonation from the 1983 film Risky Business.