As Taylor Walker’s housemate, Crow Brad Crouch has witnessed the key forward’s painstaking 12-month rehabilitation from a knee injury firsthand.
Crouchy gives an insight into the level of commitment Tex has showed throughout his recovery ahead of his AFL return against Collingwood at Adelaide Oval on Thursday night …
A year is a long time on the sidelines. There are going to be ups and downs along the way but it almost surprised me how positive Tex remained overall and how well he handled it all. In the early days when you can’t do much from a physical point of view, it can be very frustrating. But almost from the moment he injured his knee at the MCG in Round Five last year, he’s had a great attitude.
‘Tex shows a lot of care for others even when he’s going through tough times himself. He cooked up some soup for Tommy Lynch the other night because Lynchy can’t eat solid foods yet with his broken jaw.’
When you’re not able to train you don’t feel like you need to eat as much, but it can still be challenging to maintain your ideal playing weight. If you eat too much or the wrong foods, just like anyone, you’ll put on weight. He’s done really well to manage that. Some of the players dropped a few kilograms over the pre-season and Taylor was the same. The key forwards play 90-95 per cent game time these days, so it’s a big demand aerobically. Taylor’s endurance is unbelievable for a guy who’s 192cm and nearly 100kg. He’s lean and fit which will help him in his comeback.
Going back 6-7 months when Tex had just started running again, he iced his knee constantly. He still does a lot of icing after training and games. He likes to loosen up the muscles around his knee too. He’s always on the foam roller when we’re watching TV or relaxing at home. Before his knee injury, he was quite a durable player and that’s because of his attention to detail in preparation and recovery. He still pulls up well now even after such a serious injury.
Tex has also taken a massive step in regards to his leadership since he’s been out. Being named in the leadership group this year was great recognition for him. He’s great with the younger players. He’s easy to talk to and gets along with everyone. He’s a good teacher and such a strong character that people just tend to follow him in whatever he does.
Tex shows a lot of care for others even when he’s going through tough times himself. He cooked up some soup for Tommy Lynch the other night because Lynchy can’t eat solid foods yet with his broken jaw. They spent a lot of time together in rehab over the summer and have a great bond.
Tex is always one of the first players to visit or call a teammate when they get injured. He always thinks of other people not just within the Club but outside too. We’ve all the seen the amazing charity work he does. I think it makes him happy making other people happy.
He’s helped me out when I’ve been off my feet with my Achilles and broken leg. He reminds me not to get frustrated and to only worry about what I can control. He definitely helps take the stress away. A lot of the time, we don’t even talk about footy at home. We just find other things to do away from footy. He’s a great housemate. He’s very neat. He’s a good cook, probably better than me, so I help him out with doing a lot of dishes.
Although Tex didn’t do the full pre-season with the team, he still had a great preparation by training one-on-one with our rehab physio Duncan Kellaway. He was doing 3-4 sessions a week just like the rest of the boys. It’s a credit to ‘Dunk’, the Club doctors and physios and Tex himself. People forget he had the lateral ligament in his knee reconstructed as well, which can add even more time onto the recovery. But he was pretty much ready to go at 11 months. The conditioning and coaching staff almost had to hold him back a bit just as a precaution.
After Tex played his first couple of games back in the SANFL I said to him, “You don’t look any different out there now than you did before your injury”. If anything, he looks even fitter than he did 12 months ago.
Normally, you give guys who have done ACLs a bit of leeway to come back underdone or take a while to get going. But his form in the SANFL shows he’s more than ready to go. Full forward and centre half-forward are probably the hardest positions to play, so we can’t expect too much of him, but I have a feeling he’ll come good pretty quick and be up to the speed of the game.
I’m sure Tex will be a bit nervous before the game against Collingwood. He has no reason to worry about his knee because that will be 100 per cent. It’s more about getting back and playing AFL after a year out. But I’m sure after one or two games; you’ll see the Taylor Walker of old.
The boys were quick to get around Tex when he kicked his first goal back in the SANFL. I think the celebration could be even bigger on Thursday night. The game is sold out, so it’s going to be a great atmosphere. I think the boys will get around him when he kicks his first goal, which is hopefully in the first five minutes! I’m just really happy for him to be back and I know our fans are too.
This article was originally published on afc.com.au and can be accessed here.