BRANDAN Parfitt refused to skip 'leg day'.
Eyeing a midfield vacancy opened by Tim Kelly's departure, the Geelong youngster wanted to make up for a summer cruelled by injury when returning to the Northern Territory for the shutdown period.
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With his front yard opposite Darwin's TIO Stadium turned into a makeshift gym circuit, Parfitt got to work.
"I just went after it and wanted to come back stronger and I did a lot more leg weights than I've ever done before," Parfitt told AFL.com.au.
"I just started to really enjoy them and when you're training all the time you get sore and probably can't lift as much as you'd like in season.
"I did them every second day which was the main thing and just tried to go as hard as I could. I felt fatigued and it felt like I accomplished something every time I did it."
When he wasn't lunging and squatting or making the most of a rare visit home during the dry season by fishing, hunting and camping, the 22-year-old was running.
Parfitt used fellow Territorian and St Kilda speedster Ben Long, his younger brother and his cousin as training partners.
And after playing all three of Geelong's finals last year with a stress fracture in his back, he had plenty to squeeze in, given he was told he couldn't run at season's end with rest the only remedy.
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"It (stress fracture) came along towards the end of last season and I was always pulling up sore after games and I wouldn't really train too much," Parfitt said.
"Towards the end of the season and going into finals I didn't really train at all. It was a bit hard when you want to put your best foot forward and show what you can do, you can't do what you want at training and you're just hoping for the best in the games.
"It was a bit hard and frustrating.
"I wasn't allowed to do any running in the off-season and came back for day one and it was still no good after I got scans.
"I didn't do anything for the whole pre-season and then got myself running a month before round one and got myself in contention, but I just wasn't right, I probably would've got rings run around me by the GWS boys if I was picked.
"I did a fair bit of work with all the cardio machines (in Darwin) and I thought if I come back in bad nick all that tough pre-season in the rehab would go to waste. I had a mindset to get after it."
With his new-found fitness base sorted, Parfitt required three separate flights via Alice Springs and Sydney in order to return to Geelong three weeks before the season restart against Hawthorn.
To celebrate his selection recall, he headed to a local hairdresser to sort out some cornrows despite housemate and "best mate at the club" Quinton Narkle trying to claim some of the credit.
"Going back to pre-season, I grew my hair out because I was in rehab for most of it and I thought I'd get a haircut before playing again so I could look fresh," Parfitt said.
"(I) ended up keeping it over the iso break and thought I'd get some braids and see how that looks.
"I was a bit nervous going into the game with how everyone would react and if I didn't perform, I'd feel embarrassed. Lucky we won and I got a kick."
Parfitt started at the first centre bounce alongside Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood and Rhys Stanley and had his best game in over 12 months – 19 disposals (11 contested), eight clearances and 10 tackles.
"I gained a fair bit of confidence out of that game," he said.
"In the past I've started as a mid and then have ended up as a forward at the end of quarters, so I was in and out of the midfield rotations.
"I think this year it was a mindset to change from wanting to be a role player to wanting to be a good player.
"With Tim Kelly gone, there's an opportunity to really go after the footy and back myself in which is probably the main thing."
Wearing the No.3 made famous in recent times by Jimmy Bartel, Parfitt admits he was nervous taking on the responsibility.
Bartel sought out Parfitt's phone number when his name was called out at pick No.26 in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft and the pair have remained in contact ever since.
"A few times I've played well he's given me a message to let me know he's watching and how happy he is I'm wearing his number," he said.
"It was daunting to come into a big AFL club like Geelong and get one of the greatest Geelong player's number. It was a bit crazy at the start.
"I probably didn't want the number with all the expectation but now I'm really happy I did get the number."
Out of contract at season's end after signing a one-year extension in January last year, Parfitt will play the waiting game with talks on hold competition-wide due to COVID-19.
Having overcome hamstring soreness that had him miss last week's loss to Carlton and with his hair back to its regular style, Parfitt will get another chance to impress when he returns to the MCG to tackle Melbourne on Sunday.