Stokes' comeback impresses top Cat - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Stokes' comeback impresses top Cat

By Laine Clark 16/05/2010 11:44:02 AM Comments (0)

As far as comebacks go, Mathew Stokes' long awaited return for the Cats was hardly outstanding, according to Geelong coach Mark Thompson - but that's what he loved about it.

Emerging from three months of hell following drug charges, Stokes made headlines for all the right reasons as he helped the Cats maul Brisbane by 81 points at the `Gabba on Saturday night.

His stats were far from disappointing - 22 touches and seven inside-50s, the most by any player in the game.

But in a superstar team that has now set up a tantalising Friday night blockbuster with Collingwood at the MCG, Stokes did not quite stand out.

And clearly Thompson wouldn't have it any other way.

"It would have been easy (for Stokes) to be a touch selfish, and try to impress and have a great game," Thompson said.

"But in the end our players went out of their way to give him the ball a bit which shows an element of support there for him.

"And I thought he made a contribution without being outstanding.

"But really we don't want the outstanding performance, we just rate his contribution to the team - team players, that's what I rate most."

Stokes' life was turned upside down in February when he was arrested for trafficking and possession of cocaine.

While serving a club-imposed ban, Stokes last month pleaded guilty to possession after a deal between prosecutors and the small forward's lawyers ensured the trafficking charge was dropped - a charge which threatened to end his AFL career.

He avoided a criminal conviction and was put on a 12-month good behaviour bond.

Understandably all eyes were on Stokes as he played his first game since emerging from the club ban on Saturday night.

"I thought he was nervous," Thompson said of his charge.

"I thought he looked as though it was his first game at this intensity but he did some terrific things - his pressure and tackling and his attack on the ball was outstanding.

"Very pleased he's back. Glad he's made a contribution."

It hasn't just been on the field that Stokes has tried to make amends.

He has also written a letter to Geelong members on the AFL club's website.

"People can have their opinions and to be honest I don't blame them (judging Stokes) - but I don't think one moment defines your life or the person that you are," Stokes wrote.

"I will not be letting something so stupid and senseless ruin my life again and I will do everything I can to make my wrongs right."

Thompson predicted Stokes would back up against the `Pies on Friday night.

"He's shown an ability to be real honest with us (about his fitness) like he did around last year's finals and putting himself out of the team - we trust our players in that regard," Thompson said.

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