Perth Wildcats big man Matt Knight has made a dramatic change in his body shape over the off-season in a bid to avoid a repeat of the injuries that have plagued him for the past two years.
The hard-working centre spent a long, cold winter recovering from shoulder surgery and altered his diet to shed 7kg from his hulking frame, believing it would not only make him more agile, but also play a major role in keeping him fit.
Wildcats strength and conditioning coach Will Markwick and physiotherapist Dave Philpot have cast a keen eye over Knight, who says he is in the best shape of his career as he prepares to chase an elusive championship ring and get back in the frame for Boomers selection.
"During the off-season I went to see a nutritionist and got a set program that I went on for three weeks to cut everything out," Knight said.
"I got a lot of ideas and recipes from that that I followed. It's what I do now and it's really helping me.
"I've been 113 to 115 kilograms the last two years and I've suffered some soft-tissue injuries, so Will and Dave have tried to get me lighter this year.
"The way I get up and down the court now is probably the best I've felt since my second year in Sydney (2009) when I had one of the best years of my career."
Knight is eyeing the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain and plans to use the upcoming NBL season as a launching pad back into the national set-up. "I've been injured now for a few Boomers camps but I'm out to show that I am one of the best big men in the league," he said.
A fit Knight is integral to the Wildcats' hopes of atoning for last season's grand final defeat to New Zealand.
He will bear much of the front-court load after Luke Nevill was squeezed out of the squad due to pressures of the salary and player points caps.
The slimmed-down Knight will be put to the test when the Wildcats play their first official pre-season series away to Cairns next week.
The two teams are set to meet on Thursday and Friday as they prepare for the 2012-13 season, which begins on October 5.
For the Wildcats, this season is all about taking the next step and reclaiming the title that New Zealand have held for two years.
"To be a minute and a half away from winning a championship, we've talked about it all off- season," Knight said.
"We've just got to pay attention to the little details because that's what cost us in the grand final."We've had the same team for three years now so we're very confident heading into the season."
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