TOM LONERGAN DECIDES TO GIVE FOOTY
ANOTHER CRACK; OFFERED A SPOT ON ROOKIE LIST
By Ben Jensen TOM LONERGAN, who lost a kidney following a sickening clash in last season's round 21 draw with Melbourne at Skilled Stadium, has decided to give football another go, initially on Geelong's rookie list. The 22 year old spent days in a coma and nearly died on the operating table before having a kidney removed, and spent another three weeks in hospital.
But this has not deterred Lonergan from at least keeping the possibility of again playing AFL open. The first decision that I needed to make was whether I would play on", he said.
"The medical advice is that I can play, and I want to get back out there. However I know that there is still a lot of work to do to get back to full fitness. This will allow me to do that without feeling that I have left the team shorthanded.
New Big Cat Neil Balme explained the circumstances behind the decision to rookie list Lonergan, rather than simply extend his contract on the primary AFL list. Balme said "He won't lose out financially", when pressed what it means for Lonergan, adding that should he regain full fitness he'd be elevated to the primary list.
"The club received a report from Toms surgeon and the prognosis was positive in terms of his ability to continue to play,", Balme said. "Once that decision was made we explored all of the ways we could help Tom in his quest to return to the senior team. We have demonstrated throughout the past few months that our concern was for Toms long term recovery and return to full health and that remains the case.
Balme confirmed Lonergan is able to partake in pre-season conditioning. The medical advice is that Tom can resume some training now. We have agreed that we will de-list Tom this week and re-draft him in the rookie draft in December. Tom will remain on similar contract terms as he was in 2006.
Geelong fans are certain to give Lonergan the support he deserves. The life threatening injury came just as Tom was cementing a position in the team, and in a match in which he was one of Geelong's best. Let's hope the club does the same, while not encouraging him to make a decision to play on, supports him and gives him a couple seasons to make it. (Like they did with Mark Woolnough).