A YEAR ago, Paddy Ryder was full of doubt.
Ryder was about to return to senior ranks after being suspended for the 2016 season for his involvement in the Bombers' doping saga.
Ryder was also about to start his career at Port Adelaide, having moved from Essendon at the end of 2015.
Did he still have what it takes at AFL level? How would he jell with his new Port teammates?
"This time last year there were a few doubts, coming back into footy," Ryder said on Wednesday.
He needn't have worried: his return was a triumph, capped by winning All Australian honours.
Now, a doubt-free Ryder has a simple goal for the 2018 season.
"Back it up," he said.
"I want to come out this year and at least stay on par with last year.
"I'm always looking to try and improve but I had a pretty good year last year.
"So just to make a few baby steps here and there and improving my game, just trying to have the output that I had last year.
"I think my coaches and teammates are all looking for that and I know I'm capable of it.
"I have been working on a few little things, I won't give any secrets away.
"But to be hitting the scoreboard a little bit more ... just overall improving my game, trying to get involved in the play as much as I can."
Birthday boy Ryder, who turned 30 on Wednesday, admitted feeling extra expectation because he's the reigning All Australian ruckman.
"Definitely. There's a lot of good ruckmen out there coming back," he said.
"Maxy Gawn, Nic Nat (Naitanui), you have got Sauce (Adelaide's Sam Jacobs) down the road, Toddy Goldstein is another one who is going to be looking to get back to his best footy.
"So it's a big challenge for me but I look forward to marking myself against those sort of guys."
Ryder was confident he would mould a new-look Port midfield featuring ex-Brisbane captain Tom Rockliff and former Geelong speedster Steven Moptlop.
"You're bringing in quality, it's not like you're bringing in new kids that are still raw," Ryder said.
"These guys have been through it, they know how to handle themselves and know what is going on and they fit straight in."
Source : http://www.afl.com.au/news/2018-03-14/star-power-ruckmans-simple-goal-for-2018422