GEELONG coach Chris Scott says injury-prone forward Nakia Cockatoo is on a “meticulously developed program” as the Cats attempt to reignite his stuttering career.
The 22-year-old, who has played just 34 games since Geelong used pick no.10 to draft him in 2014, has battled ongoing knee issues for just over 12 months.
Scott says the program has been tailored to ensure he’s in peak physical condition before returning to the field.
“The really broad timeframe for Nakia – best case – would be well-and-truly into the second half of the year,” he said. “And probably not quickly after the (mid-season) bye, either.
“And that will involve significant VFL time as well.”
“He has done quite a bit of work. The issue for us is that the majority of that work has been at low intensity.
“The challenge for powerful, quick players like Nakia tends to be that last 10 per cent, which he hasn’t done much of.
“So we need to make sure he’s had a lot of exposure to that before we consider putting him in an uncontrolled environment.”
Scott says Geelong was no longer considering writing off this year and turning its attention to 2020 for Cockatoo.
“Because he’s going really well now, but, for a number of reasons – the most obvious of which is his existing injury, which is a little complicated,” Scott said.
“There are some examples across the competition of players coming back from PCLs and it not being as smooth as it could be.
“But, he’s also missed so much footy and he has a makeup that demands caution with his rehab.
“He’s a really powerful young athlete, and we think he’s got a great future in front of him.
“So any shortcuts with his preparation now we think could be damaging long term and we’re not prepared to take that risk.”