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Step by step for Otten

Andy Otten played his first game since Round 20 of last season in the SANFL on Saturday
Andy Otten played his first game since Round 20 of last season in the SANFL on Saturday
The next step for me is to start getting a bit of momentum together.
Andy Otten

Andy Otten admits he was a little concerned after going without a possession in the first quarter of his comeback match in the SANFL on Saturday.

Following an 11-month layoff after his second knee reconstruction in six years, Otten made his long-awaited return to competition against Central District at Elizabeth Oval.

It was a bittersweet occasion for the 192cm defender, given the match was also Adelaide’s first outing since the tragic passing of Senior Coach Phil Walsh.

Otten failed to find the footy in the opening term and, while simply taking his place on the field was a win in itself, he told his mind was playing tricks on him.

“I didn’t get a touch in the first quarter and I was a bit nervous. I couldn’t get near it,” he said.

“But I felt like I was running pretty well… and I got into it as the game went on.”

The versatile Crow loosened up after the first change and finished with 16 disposals at a team-high 93 per cent efficiency, setting up many of Adelaide’s forward forays expertly from half-back.

“I just wanted to start competing again and get back to hitting other bodies,” he said.

“I started playing off my man a bit as well, and I think that got me into the game.

“But I couldn’t get near it early. I was a bit worried.”

SANFL Stats: Round 13

Otten also showed he hadn’t lost any of his confidence in the air during his lengthy layoff. He hauled down six marks for the afternoon in blustery conditions at Elizabeth, including an equal match-high four intercepts.

“That’s kind of what I’ve built my game around, so I’ve got to make sure that’s up and going,” he said.

“But I’ve got to make sure that I keep evolving and keep hitting my kicks when I get the ball as well.”

The sodden conditions certainly didn’t suit a player making his return from such a serious knee injury. Fortunately, the worst of the weather managed to steer clear of the Ponderosa while the match was in progress.

“I was laughing a bit in the morning thinking ‘this is typical isn’t it?’,” he said.

“I woke up and it was belting down. But the rain held off luckily enough.”

Kerridge ‘proud of the boys’

Understandably, players traditionally take time to recapture fitness and form following knee reconstructions. Taylor Walker played two State League matches before working his way back into the senior side late last season following his own knee surgery.

Otten said he wasn’t putting any expectations – or limits – on what he could achieve in the remainder of 2015.

“The next step for me is to start getting a bit of momentum together,” he said.

“If I can just keep the games ticking over and keep performing, you never know what could happen.”

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs