Star Temora forward Matt Harpley could be a shock inclusion for Saturday’s Farrer League grand final against Marrar, despite requiring knee surgery on a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered just two weeks ago.
In a grand final week bombshell, the league’s leading goalkicker has put his hand up for selection, training with the side last week and again last Saturday.
Harpley only returned this season from a knee reconstruction two years ago.
He was devastated to learn he requires another, after re-injuring the knee in a marking contest in their qualifying final win over North Wagga.
But after being given a glimmer of hope from medical staff that he could play before his operation, Harpley’s doing everything in his power to make it happen.
“Obviously he needs surgery, we know that, but there’s a whole lot of his knee still together,” Temora coach Jake Wooden said.
“So he’s been training, kicking on it, running, jumping… and the knee’s been pulling up really good.
“This week will be the deciding factor when we put him to the test on Tuesday and Thursday. We’ll do a lot of contact and see how the knee holds up.”
If it’s a big call for the full-forward, it’s also a key grand final moment for the coach, who was initially stunned at the suggestion.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Wooden said.
“I thought he was joking, honestly, when he said he’s half a chance. But then he explained his (scan) results to me in detail and there’s a fair bit holding on… he’s been to the physio and had treatment and had it strapped a certain way.”
Wooden said Harpley is aware that he’ll face a physical workout before the team is selected on Thursday.
“He wouldn’t try if he didn’t think it was right. He’s putting the team first so if he’s not right, he’s not right,” Wooden said.
While acknowledging the risk, there’s also the reward to consider – the return of a three-time premiership player, alongside fellow key forwards Matt Wallis and Mark Breust.
“He won’t be 100 percent but him being 80 percent is still going to take a good defender… which might stretch their defence,” Wooden said.
“Hopefully he gets up – for his sake, and the team. He adds a lot to this team.
“And he had surgery on his meniscus 30 days before the 2014 grand final and came out and kicked five and was almost best on ground.”