Macaffer underwent surgery in late 2014, having ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the round-22 clash against Greater Western Sydney.
He did not play a senior match last season, returning to the VFL with a month to go. It was his second knee reconstruction, having missed the 2012 campaign after surgery on his left knee.
The one-time tagger returned to the senior line-up after half-time in the Pies’ impressive eight-point win over Geelong in the NAB Challenge at Simonds Stadium on Friday night.
Playing inside attacking 50, his first kick – a deft jab – resulted in a goal after James Aish’s strong tackle on Corey Enright.
He would finish with nine disposals, and now hopes to play a full match in the Pies last pre-season clash, against North Melbourne in Wagga Wagga on Saturday.
“I was pretty nervous in the last 24 hours, I haven’t played an AFL game for a while. To be back out there with the boys, and obviously to come away with a win, it’s an awesome feeling and one I have really missed,” Macaffer said after the win.
“Body feels awesome. Obviously, I only played the last half. I said to a few of the boys I wish I could come on at half-time every week – it would be nice.
“That third quarter, as a team, it was awesome to play in and be a part of. I played mainly as a forward, I had a few little stints towards the back-end in the midfield.
“It was a great game to play forward as that was where the ball was most of the time when I was on in that second half. I managed to get my hand on it a few times.”
The Magpies trailed by 21 points at half-time but took control of the game with their quick and more direct game plan, resulting in 11 third-term goals.
They also worked harder than the Cats when the ball was in dispute, and were buoyed by the form of American rookie Mason Cox, who booted two goals and took four strong marks.
“He took his chance, he took his opportunity, a few nice marks early in the game, and we thought in the third quarter his competitiveness in the air inside the forward 50 was really good,” coach Nathan Buckley Buckley said.
Macaffer was delighted with his own goal, but had to check himself.
“I think I snuck in a little fist pump and then had to check myself. It was just a practice game,” he told the Magpies’ website.
Macaffer, who turns 28 on Monday, is likely to face a fight to regain his role as the chief tagger, as Levi Greenwood and Jack Crisp handled those jobs well last year.
Off contract at the end of the season, Macaffer will be keen to again prove his value, with goals up forward one way of showing his versatility.
“I think cause I snuck in a few games towards the end of last year, and I have had a whole pre-season, I have sort of forgotten I have hurt my knee before,” he said.
“I had a really good build-up. I haven’t missed a beat all pre-season so now the games are here, it’s good to get out there, build on this half of football and, hopefully, play a full game next week and build on that.”
Buckley had much to like about the win, especially as the Magpies were without eight of their best players, including skipper Scott Pendlebury and forwards Travis Cloke and Darcy Moore.
“To kick that score without Darcy or Travis in those key roles just shows you it is method and not personnel,” Buckley said.