STAR Mount Pleasant signing Adam Baird is confident his long-awaited return to football on Saturday will be "just like riding a bike".
When Baird lines up for the Blues - presumably in the centre square - against Leitchville-Gunbower in round five of the Heathcote District league season, it will have been 615 days since his last official game.
Not only was Baird among the thousands of country footballers forced to sit out last year due to the COVID-19 cancellation of seasons, but his return has been delayed through suspension.
Baird copped a four-game ban for rough conduct in the last game he played - the 2019 Bendigo league elimination final for Golden Square against Sandhurst.
The BFNL's 2019 Michelsen medallist missed the Bulldogs' first semi-final loss to Gisborne the following week, then his new club Mount Pleasant's first three games this year, with the added delay of the Blues having the bye in the opening round.
"It has been hard to watch over the past few weeks because we've been dropping like flies in terms of injures and haven't been playing good footy," Baird said on Thursday.
"So I'm just champing at the bit to get back out there and into it."
While this is Baird's first game of the season for the Blues, he did get two practice matches under his belt.
"I've kept myself in pretty good nick and reasonably fit and being able to play those couple of practice matches was just like riding a bike again," Baird said.
"It had been a long time between games, but it seemed to come back naturally to me and I was able to play reasonably well."
As well as being a high-profile recruit into the HDFNL given his stacked footballing CV that includes four premierships with Golden Square, dual Victoria Country representative, eight-time Bendigo inter-league player, two-time Square best and fairest, plus his 2019 Michelsen Medal, Baird is also co-coaching the Blues alongside Darren Walsh.
"The coaching has been a great experience so far. There were some pre-season trainings that Woosha couldn't get to and I was a bit nervous at the start about taking a full session," Baird said.
"But I got my whiteboard and wrote up a bit of a plan and after the first couple of sessions I took I really enjoyed it and I'm growing with confidence week by week. Like anything, you get better the more you do it."
Baird returns to an undermanned Blues side that has started the season 1-2 and is coming off a shock 35-point loss to Huntly last week.
"We've got to come out and put the pressure on Leitchville from the first bounce and get off to a good start, rather than just sitting back and waiting for it to happen," Baird said.
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