Cameron Rayner’s Facebook feed has evoked a range of emotions as the Brisbane forward patiently waits for AFL’s return.
First there was the Jonathan Brown montage as the former Lions great, whose No.16 guernsey now belongs to Rayner, was accepted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.
Then there was the throwback to last year’s after-the-siren loss to Fremantle – their opponents when the AFL resumes next Saturday – that still stings the former No.1 pick.
“It was a shocker that one, we haven’t forgot about that,” Rayner said of the one-point loss.
“I saw it on Facebook that other day … remember the feeling, it was terrible.”
Seeing footage of Brown in his prime had already stoked the fire, with Rayner admitting he had “probably taken for granted” the chance to wear his number at the Gabba.
“I see it now and think ‘is that a 16 for Browny or me?’,” he laughed.
“He’s a super star of the game. It’s awesome to wear that number and to see that (triple-premiership) team start young together and have success as they grew old.
“It’s something we want to do here and we have the foundations for that building (again) and need to working towards that.”
Rayner had vowed to return in good shape this season after a quieter second campaign followed his powerful rookie year.
Having done that, the 20-year-old said the season’s suspension was initially tough to take.
“I had that in my head at the start of it, that it was a pre-season 2.0,” he said.
“I took it as an opportunity to keep on improving, I went back to Melbourne and I was able to work hard on things I felt I needed to improve on.
“When I got back here and started training in pairs I was able to fine-tune a few things.
“I feel really fit and strong.”
The Lions will host the Dockers next week, almost three months after their round one loss to Hawthorn.
“It’s so exciting, throughout this whole period we were trying to count down the days,” he said
“Everyone’s getting that perk back up cause footy’s back.
“The first round wasn’t what we wanted … but we have a good month ahead of us at the Gabba so have to make that count.”