Ararat AFL product Tom Williamson has finally gotten over his injury worries and is now getting ready to play some of his best football in 2021.
In his first few years in the AFL system, Williamson suffered a wretched run with injury, but after getting his body right in 2020, he now wants to make the make most of being in career-best shape.
"I can comfortably say that I'm in the best physical shape and the best footy shape that I've ever been in," Williamson told the Carlton Football Club's media team.
"I go to training or go to work every day and try to leave knowing that I've improved as a player or gotten the best out of the day."
Williamson spent most of the 2018 and 2019 seasons fighting off back injuries, but in 2020 he was able to play 15 of a possible 17 games and cement himself in the Blues best 22.
His quality form and his hard attack on the football earnt him a two-year contract extension with Carlton that has him primed for a big 2021 season.
"It's obviously so good - for a change - to be out there. To be out there this year and giving my body a chance to play some good footy, it feels a lot different for me," he said.
"You can't underestimate backing up sessions and what it does for your body. Physically, I'm heavier than last year and I'm fitter than I've ever been.
"It was a different mindset last year, going into a year where you're uncontracted and unsure whether your body was actually going to hold up to what was being asked of it.
"I've had a year under my belt now and been rewarded with a contract, which was really good. Now, it's about building on what I've done: this pre-season has been a good year to build that launch pad to hopefully have some strong years ahead."
Carlton have a wealth of options across their half-back and wing positions and Williamson said he is happy to fill whatever role is given to him.
"It's been a really good thing to add to my game, playing that half back and wing area," he said.
"With my attributes, I think it's an area where I can develop myself and hopefully down the track can play that dual role or even as a full-time winger.
"I've been splitting my time between the two, even during match sim. Hopefully I'll be available to be selected in either position this year."
After spending much of the 2020 season away from home and in a hub, Williamson also said he is looking forward to playing in front of the Carlton faithful in 2021.
"You go through a lot of ups and downs when you've been injured, so to have support and know you've got the backing of the Carlton community is massive," he said.
"Hopefully I can pay them back with good footy in the year coming. Knowing you've got that support takes a bit of the edge off and to be back in the thick of it is something every player wants."
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