JOSH Kennedy has enjoyed four stunning seasons with the Sydney Swans, but the superstar midfielder could elevate his game to a whole new level this year after revealing he is only now learning how to manage his body.
Kennedy is one of the AFL's most durable players, currently riding a streak of 107 consecutive games, second only to Richmond's Brett Deledio (138 games) in the competition.
He has finished in the top three of the Swans' best and fairest in all four years at the club, taking out the award in 2012 and adding a premiership medallion and an All Australian jumper that same year.
But in a frank admission, Kennedy says he has carried groin issues throughout his career.
In his own words, Kennedy "fell over the line" last year in a gruelling campaign that took a major toll, but he is already showing the benefits of a reduced workload.
"I was probably nursed back into the pre-season a little bit and I'm feeling really fresh, mentally and physically," Kennedy told AFL.com.au.
"With the increased workload last year, plus the fact it's been four years without missing a game, I had a bit more time off to let my body recover.
"I was starting to get groin issues at the end of last year. That's something that's been a factor my whole career.
"If I'm just constantly churning out sessions, carrying 96 kilos, it takes its toll.
"So it's just about managing that and I've got a good balance with the fitness staff and I know my body better now.
"Having that rest and knowing what I need to do has got me here.
"I'm where I need to be."
And the benefits have been plain to see.
Showing his trademark clean, fast hands around the stoppages, kicking goals, setting up teammates and landing heavy tackles, Kennedy has often looked a class above in pre-season scrimmages.
The Swans will ramp things up again on Wednesday in an intra-club match at Lakeside Oval, their final hit-out before their NAB Challenge campaign begins.
Kennedy's form to date has caught the eye of the club's coaching staff.
"We understand that he carries a pretty big workload through the course of the year and we'll make sure we manage him correctly between now and the first game," coach John Longmire said.
"But he's been doing all the training and he looks extremely sharp."
However it hasn't just been Kennedy tearing up the track.
With a number of senior players being eased into the new campaign due to injury, some youngsters have been given a chance to shine, and they are giving Kennedy reason for optimism.
"We've got a lot of young guys up and going," Kennedy said.
"Earlier in the pre-season we had a fair few senior players just slowly getting back into it, which forced a lot of young guys to pick up the slack.
"We're all gelling pretty well and the training intensity is good.
"It's really competitive for spots. If you asked me to pick the side it would be pretty tough to do right now.
"We've got full confidence in our list and anyone that takes the field, we expect to win against anyone.
"We should set ourselves for a pretty big year."
One man who is certainly adding to that confidence is Lance Franklin, a teammate of Kennedy at the Hawks from 2007-09.
Franklin will take part in Wednesday's intra-club match and Kennedy says his presence is already having an impact.
"As the pre-season has gone on he's got more and more involved and you can tell he's excited to be here," Kennedy said.
Lance Franklin mixes with the fans at the Sydney Swans Australia Post Community Camp in Brookvale. Picture: AFL Media
"He's pretty eager to get out there and start playing.
"We're all on the same page, we all want to win big games, and he's obviously shown he can perform in big games.
"I only played 13 games in three years (at Hawthorn), but I certainly can say it was a real privilege to be able to run out alongside him.
"There's very few players in the game that make you stand that much taller just because you're in the same jumper.
"He was one of them."
Kennedy has undoubtedly enjoyed a dream run ever since he made the move to the harbour city.
But there is no chance of him taking anything for granted.
"I've certainly had time at the end of every year just to look back and you learn that things can change really quickly," he said.
"For me I guess things changed for the better, but I'm certainly under no illusion it can change for the worse pretty quickly as well.
"That's what drives you, knowing you need to keep improving and keep your enthusiasm up and do what you need to do to make sure you're where you want to be."