The Tigers are expecting a big season from their mulleted man who appears to be nearing full fitness after dealing with a serious groin issue last season.
Maric was hampered by groin troubles in 2013, so serious that coach Damien Hardwick described his ruck’s pain as something that would likely bother him throughout the remainder of his career. That appears no longer to be the case as Maric trained the house down late in the week, benefitting from surgery, rest and rehabilitation.
While Maric appears a lock to kick off the Tigers’ season against the Gold Coast Suns on March 15, the big man hasn’t decided what level his participation will be during the NAB Challenge.
“He had a groin op towards the end of last year but he’s been training fully for us,” forward line coach Brendon Lade told AFL.com.au.
“It really helped, the operation. He’s a big player for our team and we need him playing.”
Maric will also have a lighter load to contend with this year thanks to the off-season move that brought Shaun Hampson over from Carlton.
“He’s loving that he’s going to have Hampson around to help him share the load a bit, so we’re very excited to get them playing together and playing well because it’s going to cause headaches for a few teams,” Lade said.
“Having the workload he (Maric) had over the past two years, we probably contributed to the injury as coaches but he was all we had.”
While Carlton probably wish they had a big or two more the size of Maric, an area of concern not addressed in the off-season, the club will also have to deal without a midfield star for the opening part of the 2014 season.
Chris Judd will miss the start of this season with a bout of Achilles tendinitis and is out of action for at least the opening two rounds.
The 30-year-old is expected to be right for Carlton’s round 3 clash with Essendon, but will miss games against 2013 finalists Port Adelaide and Richmond.