Former Noosa Tiger, Cain Tickner, is back on track for the Under-18 nationals.
Sunshine Coast teenager, Cain Tickner, is on his way back to peak fitness, in the hope of getting on an AFL list this season.
The 18 year-old tore his Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) in August last year, putting him out of action for almost eight months.
But the youngster is more determined than ever to put himself back in the box seat for draft day, doing everything he can to make sure his knee is right.
“Even now, it still pulls up sore sometimes but if I keep on top of my rehab and recovery, then it should be right.”
Tickner just returned from the AFL-AIS Academy tour of Europe, his first trip overseas outside of New Zealand.
The academy travelled through Italy, England and Denmark, playing against European sides and each other.
“It was really good. My favourite place was London, just being in the city and seeing places like Buckingham Palace and Big Ben,” he said.
Tickner is a level 2 player in the Academy, having progressed from the introductory Level 1 squad in 2011-12.
The teenager has a decorated representative career, having played under-18s last year, as well as under-16s before being picked in the AIS Academy.
Before sustaining the injury last year, Tickner was signed to an extended AFL Club agreement for 2012 and 2013, a postive sign for his draft chances.
While he said that it was great to be awarded that opportunity, he is not getting ahead of himself.
“I want to focus on getting more footy into my knee, and working towards nationals this year,” he said.
Before leaving for Europe, Tickner gave his knee its first test, in a match against the Collingwood VFL side at the MCG.
While on the tour, he had his first real hit-out, playing half a game against the Europe Under- 23s.
The former Noosa Tiger is signed with Aspley, but since returning to Australia, the young gun has been playing as a Brisbane Lions top-up.
In his first match back in Australia on Saturday, with the Lions Reserves, Tickner played alongside Simon Black and Brent Staker, an experience he relished.
“That was unreal.”
“They’re guys that I grew up watching and it was great to get to play with them.
Tickner said he learned a lot from the two about the commitment required in AFL footy.
“Just the way they go about their footy and the way they prepare for games,” he said.
“Their professionalism is incredible.”
AFLQ talent manager, Bob Batty, said Tickner had great versatility, able to play all across the ground and, at 194cm, said Tickner was athletic for his size.