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Friday feature: ‘There are some darker days’

At times, Jack Trengove must feel like the most experienced 23-year-old the AFL has ever seen.

He’s packed plenty in since being selected with pick No.2 by Melbourne – right after the club took former teammate Tom Scully – in the 2009 national draft.

There’s been five different senior coaches. The tragic deaths of his club’s president Jim Stynes, and its former coach Dean Bailey.

Mark Neeld made him the youngest captain of a VFL/AFL club. Ever. And 12 months ago he stepped down from the role after two seasons as skipper.

He’s played for Australia. Been nominated for the Rising Star. Battled for form at times and looked ready to become one of the game’s most damaging midfielders at stages as well.

Now his promising 81-game career is on hold – perhaps in jeopardy – due to a serious foot injury.

Oh, and he was almost traded to Richmond a couple of months ago.

You could forgive the South Australian to be flat. Over it. And he admits there has been frustrating times.

But when caught up with him this week, we found a calm, balanced, and upbeat young bloke who has not spent his time on the sidelines feeling sorry for himself.

Yes, there’s rehab to be done, and surgeons to visit, but Trengove has ensured he is keeping his mind occupied.

He is getting ready for life after footy, well aware that it could come at any stage for all players in the system.

He is enrolled in a Bachelor of Business (Law) at Monash University, and has even started working 9am-5pm one day a week.

“It’s definitely opened my eyes to what I guess we would call the real world,” Trengove said.

“The best thing has been getting a bigger perspective on life. We do get caught up, as AFL players, in a bit of a bubble at times.

“The career you have as a footballer isn’t going to be there for the rest of your life so you need to have a path beyond footy.” – JACk trengove

“I managed to play a fair bit of senior footy early in my time at the club. But you can’t put all your eggs into one basket. I have a greater appreciation for that now.

“The career you have as a footballer isn’t going to be there for the rest of your life so you need to have a path beyond footy.”

That path for the South Australian has started at financial planner Rising Tide in Melbourne’s Docklands precinct.

It’s been a novel experience for someone who has only known a professional football club as his workplace.

“I am only three weeks in, working 9am-5pm, putting the slacks and shirt on and heading off to work,” Trengove said.

“I am really enjoying it. It’s a great opportunity to get in and see how an office actually operates.

“Coming from a footy club, it’s an eye-opening experience, but I am enjoying it.

“The hardest thing is finding the energy before or after work to get the training done.

“I can understand how some people find it difficult to exercise when they’re at work all day. It’s not an easy thing.”

Trengove is finding the time. He gets up two hours before work to get it done, or tells himself after a hard day at the office that he has to find the motivation.

He is slowly building up his rehab program in the latest recovery from a navicular bone injury.

He was first diagnosed with a cracked navicular in April last year, and played just two games for the season.

He had previously overcome a stress fracture in a different part of the same foot.

This week he was able to give the ‘moonboot’ the flick after four months and start putting weight on his troublesome foot again.

“There’s always that hesitation when you step out of bed first thing in the morning,” Trengove said.

“As the days go by I get a little bit more confidence and that has just got to build up.

“I have to learn to walk on it again. Just build up the strength and get the foot ready to handle my body weight.

“The big test will come when I start running again and put the force through the foot. I am just going scan by scan at the moment.”

Unfortunately for the Dees, Trengove has been joined by exciting youngster Christian Petracca on the sidelines.

The No.2 pick in last year’s draft ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee at training on Monday.

When Petracca’s knee buckled and season ended, Trengove understood his role in helping his 19-year-old teammate.

“He’s a bubbly kid and he’s been pretty upbeat since it happened this week,” Trengove said.

“I think he’s at a stage – and I have been there, too – when you set your mind to the long-term goal of getting fit and back training and playing, you’re really motivated.

“It gets harder at times, it can be really difficult to keep up. When your teammates start playing and you can’t be out there it is tough.

“He’s going to go through some darker days and some frustrating moments along the way.

“But I am going to make it my job to keep him up and working hard and I know he’s going to come out of it really well.”

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