Polak prepares for miracle AFL comeback - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Polak prepares for miracle AFL comeback

By Guy Hand 21/08/2009 04:50:06 PM Comments (0)

Richmond defender Graham Polak doesn't fear playing football.

His only fear now is not playing football.

Fourteen months after sustaining a life-threatening brain injury when he was hit by a tram, Polak makes a long-awaited return to AFL against Hawthorn at the MCG on Saturday night.

At the highest level of a collision sport which will undoubtedly test his nerve at some point, Polak says he has no worries about putting his head over the ball again.

The only dread in the back of the 25-year-old's mind is the fact he is probably playing for his career.

Polak's contract expires at the end of this season.

He has two weeks to convince Richmond to offer him a new one and allow him to resume his long-term AFL career - a prospect which has driven his remarkable recovery.

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't want to play AFL (long-term)," Polak said.

"I want to go out and repay the faith and the support the boys and the club have given me and show them they've made the right decision, and I can still play the game.

"When I was sitting in the hospital, all I wanted to do was get to the football club.

"I didn't want sit at home and mope around on the couch, I wanted to to get out there and start training.

"Being around a football club, you get a great lift and the boys really got around me.

"That drove me even more. I owe them for being a great support of mine, and I'm tipping I can do that on Saturday night."

Polak was hit by a tram during a night out in Melbourne in June last year, and spent several days in an induced coma and several months recovering from his injuries.

Slowly the pieces of his life have slotted back into place.

The bruising and swelling on his brain subsided, his memory returned, his personality brightened, his football and confidence improved over the course of a season in Richmond's reserves.

Richmond's medical staff promise Polak is at no more risk of a head injury in an on-field collision than any other player.

And already his head has been tested. A heavy clash in his comeback reserves match convincing him he can take whatever is dished out in the AFL.

"I'm not going to step back from that challenge and if the ball is there to be won, I'll be throwing everything into it," said Polak, who will wear a protective helmet on Saturday night.

"That's not going to keep me down - I'm ready to show everyone that I'm back."

Richmond coach Jade Rawlings said Polak deserved his elevation to the senior side following several weeks of outstanding reserves performances.

Rawlings admitted he thought six weeks ago, Polak would be unable to return to AFL level this year.

"But he kept progressing, and every time there's been resistance and someone's been prepared to say he can't come back, he's fought even harder," Rawlings said.

Polak's message to those doing it tough is a simple one.

"Never give in. No matter how bad things are or how down you get, you can always come back from things."

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