HE'S BEEN somewhat of a forgotten man of the Sydney set-up. Five games in two years will do that, and perhaps in the minds of many Ben Ronke was never going to get back into a Swans team bursting full of attacking options.
But as he battled a debilitating injury run, the 24-year-old livewire forward always kept the faith, and crucially, so too did his coach John Longmire.
It was a belief born from that remarkable seven-goal, ten-tackle effort against Hawthorn some four years ago that saw him burst onto the AFL stage, in Ronke's third game of senior football no less.
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And as he gets set to revisit that opponent on Anzac Day for his fourth game of this season, it serves as a fair reminder of the struggles he’s endured, since.
"It's been a bit of bad luck, stress fractures initially in my back and then a knee issue that kept me out for the first half of last year," Ronke told AFL.com.au.
"It's pretty normal to have a little bit of doubt here and there when you have the injuries, and you don't know when you're going to recover and obviously it can be a ruthless industry, so you've always got to stay on your toes.
"You're judged on the way you bounce back and I've put everything I can into my rehab. I did everything I could to get my body into the best shape its been in and coming off a full-pre-season my body is reaping the rewards at the moment."
The catalyst for Ronke's response, which has led to him holding his spot in the team earlier than some may have expected, came in the relieving last-gasp win in round four over North Melbourne.
Entering the game as a sub late in the third term he collected 11 disposals and kicked a goal in an energetic display that helped change the game.
It's the kind of performance some would be forgiven for forgetting he had in his locker, but not his coach.
"Throughout the whole thing he (Longmire) has just backed me in," Ronke said.
"The last couple of years being on year-to-year contracts, he's still backed me in and given me every opportunity and had faith in what I can do on the field when I'm right to go.
"He deserves a lot of credit for persisting with me, so it'd be good to have a really good year and repay him."
That critical support has also come from those closest to the Calder Cannons product.
"Both mum and dad were a huge part in that, and my partner," Ronke said.
"Sometimes it was about having to speak about what was going on and other times it was just to be a distraction. Go back to Melbourne and see my mates and family to switch off when I could and then switch back on when I had to."
Ronke would be forgiven for needing a distraction as he watched the likes of Isaac Heeney and Tom Papley go to another level, and Errol Gulden, Will Hayward, Sam Wicks and James Bell emerge as forward options at the Swans whilst his body prevented him from being one of them.
"Honestly, I just saw it as more of an exciting thing for me," he said.
"The fact that the team was moving in the right direction and playing so well, it just made me want to get back into the team, so it didn't hinder me at all seeing those players coming through, it just motivated me more."
And now that he's back amongst them, Ronke will be hoping to replicate those Hawthorn heroics in Tasmania in round six.
"Hopefully the boys get down there and get a win against a Hawthorn team that's playing really well. We've really got to be on edge this week and know we have to be at our best," he said.