North Melbourne’s Majak Daw is expected to return to the football field this weekend seven months after he suffered serious hip and pelvis injuries.
- Majak Daw will play for North Melbourne’s VFL side on Sunday
- The playing return is just seven months after he was pulled from the Yarra River with hip and pelvis injuries
- The club has extended his contract for next year and hopes he will return to the AFL level
The Kangaroos’ star defender was hospitalised after an incident near Melbourne’s Bolte Bridge the week before Christmas last year.
He was pulled from the Yarra River and sustained serious injuries to his hips and pelvis.
At the time, Victoria Police confirmed a man was found with non-life-threatening injuries in the Yarra.
The club on Monday confirmed Daw has signed a contract extension to continue with the club next year.
Daw will play for the Kangaroos’ VFL team against Sandringham on Sunday as long as he passes final fitness tests.
“I kind of wish the game was tomorrow, I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” Daw said.
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“Not being able to do things that I took for granted in the past — I think walking was a big thing, I could only walk for a certain amount of time before I was sore, I could only run so far.
“I’ve still got a few things to tick off before Sunday but it’s really nice to get to this stage knowing the potential of playing footy again is a possibility.
“I’ll be huffing and puffing no doubt, but just to go out and play again will be an indescribable feeling.”
Daw’s move from the VFL back to the AFL will depend on how he performs and recovers this weekend.
“I want to play AFL footy, whether that’s going to be this year, whether that’s going to be next year, I’m not quite sure how my body will respond to the game load,” Daw said.
“Obviously AFL is a big step up from VFL, I’ve just go to keep listening to the guys around me.”
Daw’s rehabilitation involved him learning how to walk and run again without limping and pain.
“It’s definitely a unique rehabilitation,” North Melbourne’s head of high performance Alex Moore said.
“I don’t know if anyone’s rehabbed the injuries that Majak had and gone back to this level of sport.
“He’s just progressed really fast, it’s like having a Ferrari, you just have to make sure you build the chassis correctly.
“We don’t have a set plan for what game time he’s going to play at this moment, so we have to go through some steps.
“It may be that he plays in a few weeks time, it may be that he plays this weekend and then has a week off we just need to see how his pelvis responds.”
Daw return a ‘massive boost’
Daw moved with his family to Australia in 2003 and 10 years later became the first Sudanese-born player to play in the AFL when he made his debut with the Kangaroos in 2013.
He played 50 games with the Kangaroos and kicked 40 goals.
The 27-year-old enjoyed a breakout season in 2018, playing 18 matches primarily as a defender.
Kangaroo’s interim coach Rhyce Shaw said it would be fantastic to have Daw back on the AFL field again, but he said it was critical they took advice from the medical teams and did not rush his return.
“He certainly is one of our most important players, if not our most important player — if he can get back to that level would be fantastic,” Shaw said.
“It’s going to be pretty special when he does play and I think its going to give the whole club, and the AFL as a whole, a massive boost.
“He’s signed a contract extension for next year as well, that’s really pleasing.”
The defender thanked the football club and his team mates, family and friends for supporting him during his recovery.
But Daw said he never had any doubt about his return to AFL football.
“The only way I can repay the club back is through playing footy,” Daw said.
“It’s been a hard time for everyone, but to get that commitment to allow me to continue onwards is huge.
“The boys used to joke around that I’m all genetics.
“I think I’m really blessed with body type, I’ve put some really hard work in the gym and my body’s looked after me.”