ANDREW Brayshaw has marked Fremantle's first pre-season match as the final step in his psychological recovery from the serious facial injuries he suffered in last year's wild round 20 Western Derby.
But the emerging Dockers midfielder is already confident his mended broken jaw and teeth will withstand the physicality of AFL football.
The 19-year-old has forgiven West Coast onballer Andrew Gaff for the blow that had severe repercussions for both players and is excited to play again, starting with a JLT Community Series clash against Collingwood at Joondalup on March 4.
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"I wouldn't say (I have any) fears," Brayshaw said.
"After I did the injury, we mapped out my recovery process and there'd be physical recovery and also psychological recovery.
The last step in that recovery process would be playing a competitive AFL game, so JLT One for me is that last step in my recovery.
"After that, I really think the incident and the injury is over with and I'm just back to being myself and playing my best footy, I think."
Brayshaw recently underwent a root canal on one of his top teeth – which wasn't going to survive – and is still waiting to see if the bottom four displaced by Gaff's blow will need similar treatment.
It could be up to three years before he is given the all-clear.
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"If discolouration happens we might have to get a root canal on those, but it's really feeling good and mentally I feel great. It's all been tick, tick, tick," Brayshaw said.
Dockers coach Ross Lyon conceded to AFL.com.au that Brayshaw faced a "deep" psychological test getting back on the park, but the former No.2 draft pick told reporters he doesn't think about his teeth after putting in his mouthguard at training.
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"Just the other day Dave Mundy smacked me in the mouth with an elbow, accidentally, but I … smiled it off and kept training," he said.
"Little things like that give you confidence and I'm sure there will be other things like that throughout the year, but I'm really happy with where my mouth is at and seeing what happens."
Brayshaw couldn't eat solids for a month after Gaff's blow and was on a liquid diet with a scoop of protein each meal.
He lost muscle but has now bulked up by about three kilos from his 2018 playing weight and also ran a 2km time trial personal best last month.
He feels stronger in the contest, is lifting heavier weights and is ready to accept more responsibility in midfield to help cover the "shattering" departure of former housemate Lachie Neale to Brisbane.
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Brayshaw said he took plenty of confidence from an excellent debut campaign in which he averaged 16 disposals in 17 games, before Gaff's blow ended his season and ruled the Eagles star out of their remarkable premiership triumph.
The Victorian duo played golf together in Melbourne during the off-season, and Brayshaw was happy to "say g'day" to Gaff if he attends teammate Hamish Brayshaw's 21st birthday celebration this weekend.
They are due to play against each other for the first time since the incident when the Dockers host West Coast in Mandurah in the clubs' second pre-season match on March 10.
"We've caught up and I think we've both moved on, so I don't think playing against each other is going to change much," Brayshaw said.
"Obviously there's going to be some anticipation about the first derby and the first time we play against each other.
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"If me and him both want to move on, I think everyone should try to."
Brayshaw joined his teammates for some touch work on basketball courts at Cockburn on Tuesday. Skipper Nat Fyfe, who hurt his troublesome right elbow on Monday, was a notable absentee after travelling to Melbourne for the AFLX draft.
Veteran ruckman Aaron Sandilands' right calf was bandaged after a recent setback, which could sway the No.1 ruck position in protégé Sean Darcy's favour for the Collingwood clash next month.