AAP AFL

Carlton captain Docherty douses ACL fears

By AAP Newswire

Ask any athlete unfortunate enough to suffer an ACL injury, and they'll tell you there's the physical recovery and the mental recovery.

The standard timeline out for a rupturing of the anterior cruciate ligament is 12 months.

It's occasionally beaten, most notably by Tyson Goldsack in his race to play in Collingwood's finals campaign, but remains the most significant injury in the game.

Sam Docherty, who will lead Carlton as a co-captain in 2019, hopes he's spent his year off wisely.

He was invited into the coaches box on matchdays and spent plenty of time around the group.

Most crucially, he hopes he's defeated the demons that can plague a player after their physical recovery is complete.

"You lose the mental challenge in terms of my knees because you do so much of the stuff you're scared about," Docherty said.

"The first time I ran I was scared. The first time I changed directions I was really scared. The first time I did a high mark I was scared

"Over repetition of doing that, you lose that.

"Once you go out on the footy field, (it's like) fans trying to heckle you. You don't notice them.

"Once you're out training you just don't notice anything with your body, you're just out there playing footy."

Docherty, who suffered the injury in November 2017, flirted with a late-season comeback before deciding against the idea.

He said he was hopeful of using his experience through the club's woeful two-win season for good next year.

"The main thing I learned was the emotional intelligence and the ability to pick up on cues from your team mates," he said.

"How they're feeling, how they want to receive feedback. For me to be able to sit back and observe I found really valuable.

"Last year was a tough one for the footy club, there was a wide range of emotions going through our club

"That was the main lesson."