SOMEWHERE around the 4.30 or 5 pm mark on Wednesday, December 5, co-captain Jack Trengove was completing an upper body circuit in the AAMI Park gym with his teammates.
It was a little more than 12 hours before he was set to board a plane with the rest of his teammates, coaches and several staff members for Melbourne’s pre-season camp to the Northern Territory.
But those plans were derailed when club physiotherapist Gary Nicholls walked down to the gym, armed with mobile in hand and Dr Dan Bates on the other end.
“Gaz had Dan on the phone and they told me what was going on,” Trengove told melbournefc.con.au.
What was ‘going on’ was that Trengove had been told he had a navicular bone stress fracture. And immediate action was taken.
“About half an hour later, they decided that I wouldn’t go [to the Northern Territory]. So I handed off all of my snacks to the rest of the boys and drove home. Then the boys got up the next day and took off [for Darwin],” he said.
Despite his initial frustration about being in a boot and on crutches for the first six weeks, Trengove has remained optimistic about the 12-week injury.
“You’ve just got to take the positives out of it, and it’s probably the best time of the year to do it. Hopefully I can get back and be fully fit before the games start, and that’s my real aim and focus now,” he said.
“I’m limited to upper body circuits and swimming for the time being, so that’ll take up the Christmas break and a fair whack of January. From there, I’ll introduce some walking, then jogging and running, and getting on the bike to make sure my fitness is up to scratch.
“So it’s a three month period, but if I can get through the first six weeks, then I can start ramping up the running.”
Trengove said that if the injury had happened in April, he would’ve been shattered. Instead, he is eager to help out and play his part where possible.
“I’m still confident that because I’ve had a month of pre-season leading up to it, the fitness base is pretty good and it’s just a matter of trying to maintain that,” he said.
“I’m looking at it now as a chance to improve other parts of my game, like my strength and upper body. I’ll also take on more of a mentoring role for some of the younger boys.
“I’ll help some of them go through vision and talk to them about different things – just to make sure they’re right up to scratch with everything. It’s also important that I still have my voice around the place. You can be lost and lonely in the rehab group, because you’re not out on the track with them.”
Still, Trengove conceded it was “annoying” to miss out on the Darwin trip.
“From all reports, it went really well and the players and the coaches got a lot out of it,” he said.
“I sat back here [in Melbourne] and watched it all unfold, so it sounds as though it was a good experience for everyone.”
Trengove, who has played 59 AFL matches in three seasons, said he had never suffered a stress fracture previously. But he knew something wasn’t quite right when he initially got it checked out.
“I spoke up and saw the physios and docs and I got an MRI and nothing really came back from it,” he said.
“I did that before training, but I still didn’t think it was 100 per cent right. So the day before the Darwin trip on the Wednesday, I went and had some further scans, so we were fully aware of what was going on. It was just to tick it off, so there weren’t any related issues and I could do everything in Darwin.
“But unfortunately, the results came back on the Wednesday afternoon and there was a stress fracture on the navicular. I had my bags all packed and ready for Darwin, and they decided that it would be better for my rehab to stay here in crutches and a boot, as they’d get in the way in Darwin with the hot weather. It all happened pretty quickly.”
While the Demons were in the Northern Territory heat and humidity, Trengove undertook rehabilitation sessions at AAMI Park each day.
“I was in here for four mornings doing upper body weights and circuits, and then the other mornings I came in myself and did some swimming, so it was a pretty taxing week for the upper body,” he said.
“It was weird not being in the routine and not having things on for the rest of the day, so I was done by 9.30 or 10 am. Then I had to find some things to do for the rest of the day.”
Trengove said “there was also a fair bit of couch sitting”, but added that it was also a good opportunity to catch up with family and friends.
“I caught up with Greeny (Brad Green), so it was good to see him, as I hadn’t seen him in a while.
“It was great to see those types of people that you don’t always get time to see.”
Trengove said he sounded out fellow co-captain Jack Grimes and leader Colin Garland, who have both suffered more severe navicular injuries in the past.
“They snapped them and that’s a potentially career ending injury, but they came back from it and haven’t had any issues since. I had a bit of a chat to them both when I first found out,” he said.
“James Sellar also had a similar thing when he was 16 years old, so there are a few guys around the club who have had navicular injuries before.”
Trengove will return to training on January 7, like the majority of the group.
“I might even come back a bit earlier – depending on how I’m doing,” he added.
“This time of the year, I’ve got to spend some more time with [fitness coaches] Jacko (Rob Jackson) and Misso (Dave Misson), because I don’t want to be pushing out any more than I should.”
As for a realistic return to the game, Trengove said he was hopeful of playing in the pre-season competition.
“An ideal scenario would be to sneak in a game in the NAB Cup,” he said.
“It’s hard to tell, because every case and every circumstance is different, because bones mend at different rates.
“They say 12 weeks – but you’re probably better off being overly cautious with these things, instead of coming back [early]. Fingers crossed it is three months, but I’ll also be doing everything possible to make sure it’s even earlier than that.”
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