Majak Daw has revealed the past few years tested his resilience as he completes an inspiring return to football after more than 700 days. SEE THE FULL ROUND 9 TEAMS.
Captain Jack Ziebell broke the news that Daw would return against Adelaide at training on Wednesday, with the 29-year-old triumphantly throwing his right arm in the air as he was mobbed by teammates.
Round 9 AFL teams: Majak Daw to complete inspiring comeback …
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“It’s been a testing few years. It’s tested my character, my resilience (and) how I can bounce back from setbacks,” Daw said.
“There’s no greater feeling. It’s the ultimate reward for all the hard work both personally and with my mental health battle.
Round 9 AFL teams: Majak Daw to complete inspiring comeback …
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“There were days where I thought I was so far off it (playing AFL again), both physically and then seeing other guys playing and wanting to play with them and sitting out all last year.
“We weren’t going that well and just being there knowing there was nothing I could do but sit back and support the boys.
“Now there’s something I can do about it – go back and play footy and repay the club back and what they’ve done for me in terms of support and giving me a contract last year without knowing if I was going to play.”
It was feared Daw would never walk again after he found himself on the wrong side of the fence on the Bolte Bridge in December, 2018.
Daw was helped out of the Yarra River near Lorimer St by Victorian emergency services and it was discovered that he suffered a broken pelvis and hip.
But the Sudanese utility made a VFL return in July last year and played four games before a hamstring prematurely ended his season.
Daw was then on track to play in Round 1 before a common cold meant he was sent home from training as clubs treated every sniffle as potential COVID-19 cases.
The illness meant Daw missed Round 1 and he then tore a pectoral muscle in the gym in May. But Daw avoided surgery and is ready to rock against the Crows on Saturday.
Daw wants his story to inspire others who are dealing with mental health problems and he credited North’s psychologists for helping him turn his life around.
“A few weeks ago I spoke to the boys and shared parts of my journey coming to Australia, playing footy, my battle with mental health,” he said.
“Since I’ve been through the last few years I want to be able to help people in a way.”
Ziebell said: “It’s been 706 days since he’s played AFL football. We’ve seen his journey, we’ve seen how much work he’s done to get back to this point”.
“It’s been an incredible journey and this feat he’s going to achieve this weekend is going to be one of the great stories in AFL footy.
“Join with me in congratulating the big fella.”
DEMONS GO TALL FOR POWER CLASH
Melbourne spearhead Tom McDonald will partner Sam Weideman in attack against Port Adelaide on Thursday night after recovering from an eye injury.
The 3-4 Demons have not beaten the Power since 2017 but desperately need to record an upset victory at the Gabba to stay in touch with the top eight.
The double-pronged Demons attack was seen for just one quarter against Gold Coast in Round 6 before McDonald suffered a poke in the eye.
His replacement, teenager Luke Jackson, has also been retained, as the Dees trial a three tall set-up.
Lockdown defender Neville Jetta, 30, was again dropped while coach Simon Goodwin has decided to rest recruit Harley Bennell in what will be the first of many rotations through the AFL’s condensed fixture.
Midfielder Tom Sparrow, who has not played since Round 2, was also included.
James Harmes is expected to go back to defence.
Bennell has suffered 25 calf tears and the Demons decided he was not worth the risk off a short break.
“Harley has done an incredible job to get his body to a position where he can play consistent AFL footy,” Goodwin said on Wednesday.
“We just thought that with the four-day break, at this stage it‘s not a risk we were willing to take.”
The Demons will stick with exciting teenager Kozzie Pickett, who has kicked just two goals in five games since the season restarted.
PORT CONFIRMS TWO CHANGES
— Matt Turner
Tom Rockliff will be recalled to boost a Port Adelaide midfield faced with curtailing the influence of star Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn on Thursday night.
Rockliff has missed the past three games since being omitted but is set to get another chance at the Gabba on the back of strong trial game form.
Defender Jarrod Lienert will also come into the side, at the expense of Todd Marshall (broken thumb) and Riley Bonner (hip).
Port had been hopeful first-choice ruckman Scott Lycett (knee) would be available to take on Gawn, but Power coach Ken Hinkley said he was not ready and should play on Monday.
Hinkley said Rockliff’s experience would be valuable on ball, where the coach was confident Peter Ladhams could take it up to the Demons’ captain – five days after St Kilda big men Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall overwhelmed the Power in ruck contests in a 29-point win.
Gawn is a three-time All-Australian and leads the league in hit-outs to advantage this season, while 22-year-old Ladhams is preparing for his eighth game.
“I’m sure that’ll be a real challenge for Pete but one we’re really confident in,” said Hinkley, who all but ruled out Charlie Dixon spending much time in the ruck on Thursday night.
“He’s learning every time he plays.
“(Rockliff) will certainly be handy (in midfield) but we’d like to think Pete would’ve learned a lot from last week too.
“We had a trial game last Saturday and (Rockliff) was as good as anyone that was out there.”
The Melbourne clash is the start of four games in 16 days for the Power, during a league-wide period of fixture congestion.
Hinkley said key defender Trent McKenzie, who withdrew after experiencing back spasms in the warm-up on Saturday night, would have played if the Melbourne game was this weekend, while Rising Star runner-up Connor Rozee’s foot complaint was “fine”.
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WESTERN BULLDOGS v RICHMOND
Wednesday July 29, 7:10pm at Metricon Stadium
B: E.Wood, A.Keath, C.Daniel
HB: B.Williams, Z.Cordy, H.Crozier
C: J.Johannisen, J.Macrae, P.Lipinski
HF: T.McLean, M.Bontempelli, L.Vandermeer
F: M.Wallis, J.Bruce, S.Lloyd
FOLL: T.English, T.Liberatore, B.Smith
I/C: M.Suckling, C.Weightman, E.Richards, B.Gowers
EMG: J.Trengove, R.Smith, J.Sweet, La. Young
IN: T.McLean, S.Lloyd
OUT: La. Young (omitted), C.Porter (injured)
B: N.Broad, D.Grimes, N.Balta
HB: J.Short, L.Baker, D.Eggmolesse-Smith
C: K.McIntosh, S.Stack, M.Pickett
HF: J.Aarts, K.Lambert, J.Castagna
F: D.Martin, T.Lynch, J.Riewoldt
FOLL: I.Soldo, S.Bolton, T.Cotchin
I/C: O.Markov, M.Chol, J.Higgins, J.Ross
EMG: J.Graham, D.Rioli, R.Collier-Dawkins, P.Naish
IN: S.Stack, T.Cotchin, O.Markov, J.Ross
OUT: N.Vlastuin (injured), P.Naish, D.Rioli, J.Graham (all omitted)
MELBOURNE v PORT ADELAIDE
Thursday, July 30, 7:50pm at the Gabba
B: J.Lockhart, O.McDonald, J.Lever
HB: C.Salem, S.May, M.Hibberd
C: E.Langdon, C.Oliver, T.Sparrow
HF: J.Melksham, S.Weideman, A.Brayshaw
F: K.Pickett, M.Hannan, T.McDonald
FOLL: M.Gawn, C.Petracca, J.Viney
I/C: N.Jones, J.Harmes, L.Jackson, B. Fritsch
EMG: C.Spargo, A.Tomlinson, A.Neal-Bullen, N.Jetta
IN: T.Sparrow, T.McDonald
OUT: H.Bennell (Managed), N. Jetta (Omitted)
B: S.Mayes, T.Clurey, J.Lienert
HB: H.Hartlett, T.Jonas, D.Byrne-Jones
C: X.Duursma, O.Wines, K.Amon
HF: S.Powell-Pepper, B.Ebert, C.Rozee
F: Z.Butters, C.Dixon, R.Gray
FOLL: P.Ladhams, D.Houston, T.Boak
I/C: J.Westhoff, T.Rockliff, K.Farrell, M.Georgiades
EMG: R.Bonner, W.Drew, J.Garner, B.Woodcock
IN: J.Lienert, T.Rockliff
OUT: R.Bonner (Omitted), T.Marshall (Injured)