It’s a sight all Bombers fans want to see.
A fit and firing Orazio Fantasia leaping high in the air and crumbing at ground level to kick one of his trademark crafty goals.
The small forward has developed into one of the Bombers’ most exciting players, but also one of the most consistent, having finished in the club’s top four goalkickers in every season since 2016.
However, instead of 2019 being a year which Fantasia would continue to excel and improve further, his season was cruelled by niggling hip and knee injuries, with both ailments requiring post-season surgery.
It was frustrating for the 24-year-old, whose 2018 season was also limited by minor finger, adductor and hamstring issues.
It’s what makes it impressive that Fantasia has still starred in front of goals while being hampered by injury.
Excitingly though, the small forward now believes he’s the fittest he’s ever been in over two years, which hopefully means the 2020 season can be his best one yet.
“It's been about two months of running properly since (post-season surgery) and I reckon I’m getting pretty close to how I was feeling in 2017, which is good,” Fantasia said.
“Last year and probably a little bit with the year before, I was restricted with the hip and knee in terms of being able to run at 100 per cent and change direction and things like that.
“But after having both the surgeries, I feel like I’ve got that speed back and that real dynamic of being able to cut whenever I like.”
Fantasia’s return to the track has been a welcome sight for Bombers fans, with the small forward joining fellow teammate Devon Smith, who’s also back in full training after post-season surgery.
The return is also tracking strongly, with the crafty forward producing exciting moments like the screamer he took during the Bombers’ main session in Coffs Harbour.
More of this in the regular season please, Raz 🙌 pic.twitter.com/2hX9AOFNGC— Essendon FC (@essendonfc) January 21, 2020
While being back on the field has been a bonus, Fantasia is also relieved to be among his teammates again, saying the feeling of being away in the rehabilitation group was something he won’t miss.
“It is nice to be back mentality in just feeling part of it again,” Fantasia said.
“When you’re injured and not doing full training, you’re sort of half in, half out and you’re a bit isolated from the group and you probably start to talk to yourself a bit too much.
“But it’s definitely nice to be back out there with the boys and feeling amongst it again.”
With his body the freshest it’s been in a number of seasons, Fantasia wants to ensure he translates his healthy start to the year into on-field success.
The South Australian was a part of the Bombers team which suffered a first-round finals exit to West Coast in Perth last year, which he believes was an important learning curve for a host of young players.
“I think that was good learning for us,” Fantasia said.
“If you look at that game, 13 guys played their first final. We’re still a pretty young side which is good, so if we can keep this group together for a while, hopefully it shows that we’re tracking in the right direction.”