COLLINGWOOD swingman Ben Reid says his battle with injury over the past 18 months has made him mentally tougher but admits his body is still a work in progress.
The 26-year-old made a successful return to senior football on Saturday at the MCG, after being stranded on 99 games for nearly a year with a series of soft-tissue injuries.
Calf, hamstring and quad injuries have plagued the All Australian defender, who was sent to Germany for treatment as Collingwood sought answers for his plight.
He has also trained with ballet dancers to improve his core and functional strength.
Reid said it had been a "hard road" but one that made him stronger as a person and footballer.
"No doubt [it's made me mentally tougher]," Reid said after the 18-point win over Carlton.
"People say when they get injured, they realise how much the game means to them. I certainly found that. I’ve hated sitting at home.
"It wasn’t as if I was having setbacks that were going to put me out for 10 or 12 weeks – they were little two or three 'weekers', little niggly ones.
"It’s been hard no doubt and it’s still a work in progress.
"It’s not just going to happen overnight – I’ve still got to work at it throughout this year and into next pre-season as well. I’m just rapt to be back out there with the boys and it was even better to play in a win."
Reid had spent the past couple of weeks in the VFL playing up forward, so it was no surprise when he lined up in attack against Carlton in the absence of Travis Cloke and Jesse White.
He kicked four goals, including the Magpies' first of the match, took four marks and had nine disposals.
"I would counsel against having too high expectations of what Reidy's going to bring for us," he said.
"If he's a beacon in front of the ball and we can rely on him to be there when we need to go long to a target, which is the role that 'Clokey' has played so often for us, (it would be good). If Reidy is there, and we know that that option is always there inside our forward 50, then it just gives you confidence through the middle with the ball."
Reid himself admitted he didn't have high expectations for his 100th game and was just glad to be back playing senior football.
Cloke is likely to return to the Collingwood side for Friday night's crucial clash against the Sydney Swans at the SCG, with Reid happy to play at either end of the ground.