NATHAN Freeman's first season at Collingwood was wiped away by one of the most severe hamstring injuries the club's fitness staff had seen in a young player, but he is well on the way to making amends heading into 2015.
Freeman has been one of the most impressive performers during Collingwood's five-day training camp tailored for the club's first-to-fourth-year players at Falls Creek, in Victoria's alpine region.
The 19-year-old midfielder has set the pace in intense running sessions through the rugged yet picturesque terrain, following his standout effort in winning the club's first 2km time trial earlier this month.
Freeman says he has a point to prove after the disappointment of last season.
"I've let the handbrake go and freed my mind. It's as much a mental battle as much as a physical battle, coming off such a severe injury," Freeman told AFL.com.au in Falls Creek.
"I've definitely turned the corner mentally and physically, so all eyes are looking towards next year."
After being drafted by the Magpies with selection No.10 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, Freeman was picked to play in Collingwood's first NAB Challenge match against Geelong at Simonds Stadium.
Those (almost) two quarters turned out to be the only two quarters Freeman appeared in all year.
Initially diagnosed as a four-to-six week injury, complications arising from the damage caused to the tendon in his right hamstring delayed Freeman's return.
Magpies fitness boss Bill Davoren urged Freeman to be patient as the club looked at different methods for attacking the healing process.
Eventually, after Freeman spent the majority of the year stuck in rehab, the club's attention turned to preparing him for 2015.
If Freeman's pre-season form is anything to go by, then all signs point to him having a bumper second year.
"I'm a pretty active bloke and pretty impatient at the same time, so it's made me appreciate the feeling of having a fit and fresh body," Freeman said.
"There were times last season where I wanted to bite off a bit more than I could chew, but I had to learn about my body and learn its capabilities."
Nathan Freeman churns through some work at the club's Falls Creek camp. Picture: Michael Willson
The pacy onballer has bulked up to 85kg and the Magpies coaching staff are ecstatic to see him "flying" again.
Freeman will sit down with mentor and midfield coach Tarkyn Lockyer to map out how 2015 might look before the year is out – and his own expectations are high.
The Pies are not placing any limits on Freeman's senior prospects.
"I still want to play senior footy as early as I can, but if that doesn't go to plan I'll just continue to develop on the path the club wants me to be on," Freeman says.
"I'm still only 19 so hopefully I've got a lot of footy left in me.
"When that time comes to play senior footy I'll be ready to go."