West Preston-Lakeside ruckman Mark Kovacevic says he will be ready to go whenever football is given the green light to be played again.
Kovacevic played an instrumental role in the Roosters’ 2018 premiership success, claiming the best on ground medal in the grand final win over Macleod and finishing fourth in the league best and fairest despite making just nine appearances during the home and away season.
However, he was limited to just five games in 2019 due to a knee injury, which forced him to watch from the sidelines as the Roosters became the first club in a decade to win back-to-back Division 1 flags.
Kovacevic said he was taking both the positives into account while the COVID-19 enforced season postponement delayed his return to the playing field.
“We sort of set out a plan on the best way to come back to playing this season and it’d been going really well up until after summer,” Kovacevic told NFNL.org.au.
“Probably just as the lockdown hit, I was ready to start commencing full training so I guess it was a bit annoying that I wasn’t able to get a good hit out in terms of full training with the boys.
“In some ways it’s good and in some ways it’s bad. I guess it’s giving it more time to heal and I can focus on getting it stronger and whatnot, but on the flip side I’m probably not testing it out as much as I like in terms of competitive work and tackling.”
Nevertheless, the ruckman was confident he would be ready to resume normal training and playing duties when given the green light to do so.
“I think I was ready to go in that March period when we all got put into lockdown so I’m pretty confident whenever we get back to full training, whenever that point in time is, pretty much straight away I’d be ready to go and join in with the boys again.”
With more than nine months passing since his last game of football, the big man offered a touching perspective into the situation he had been faced with.
“It’s certainly a little bit frustrating. I’m sure if you spoke to anyone who’s just coming off an injury in the prior season, it’s always a long wait and missing the majority of the season, as I did, and then even all summer as well, I guess now this compounded on to that,” he said.
“But sometimes you’ve just got to look at the positives. We could all be a lot worse in this situation and I’m fortunate that everyone I know and myself is happy and healthy.
“While footy is always a big part of anyone’s life in this league, it’s not the be all and end all in the world.
“I’m happy and healthy and when football’s ready to commence, I’ll be as happy as anyone when that time comes.”
When the time does come for football to return, Kovacevic is striving to do what he can to play his role in West Preston-Lakeside’s quest for a third-consecutive premiership.
“Personally, it would just be getting back on the park and enjoying footy and playing with my mates. I’m just focused on doing anything I can to help contribute to another premiership to get to that illustrious three-peat, so I guess whatever I can do to help the team,” he said.
“The beauty is that our team, with the amount of talent we’ve amassed, we’re not reliant on any one player to carry us and it’s really a team effort.
“I’ll be trying to recapture some of that form I had in 2018 but I think just slotting back into that and doing whatever I can to help contribute to a premiership is going to be my focus.”
Kovacevic is confident the time away in isolation will have little impact on his club’s quest to defend another premiership.
“I guess the thing with this is everyone’s in the same boat so everyone’s going to be affected by this lockdown,” Kovacevic said.
“But the management up top with Robbie [Maiorana] and the coaches have laid down a really good game plan so that if and when we get back to resuming a season, we’ll be in as good as shape as anyone to tackle that by staying sharp both mentally and physically.
“We know when that time does come, if there is a season, there’s probably only going to be nine games plus any finals, so we’re going to have to be ready from the start.
“We know we can’t afford to can’t have a lapse like we did last year when we went 0-6 to start the season because there’s just going to be no time for anyone to catch up if they lose a couple of games in a row.
“It’s going to be hot, not only because it’s possibly a nine-game season, but because we are the back-to-back premiers, so we’re fully aware of what the expectations are going to be and what other clubs are going to try and throw at us from the get-go.”