Melbourne striker Tom MacDonald has made the brave decision to ditch the metal plate in his foot to take part in the club’s finals campaign.
The 29-year-old has not played AFL since Lisfranc suffered a leg injury in round 10.
But on Saturday he took his first step to remember when he completed his first VFL game against the Casey Demons.
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MacDonald collected 11 touchdowns and 1.1 sacks, admitting to being in a race against the clock.
“I got a bit sick at the end with a bit of stiffness and soreness,” he told the Melbourne media.
“It was a bit of a rush but the aim was to get back and play in the finals.
“I was afraid to drive because she was worried about walking again.
“I try to train as much as I can.
“Gym equipment is probably the most important thing to restore leg strength.”
Even McDonald’s has turned to Facebook’s marketplace for second-hand shoes, opting to leave his steel cleats in his feet to keep the 2022 season alive.
“I needed boots that were a little wider with just the screws in my feet, so I went to Facebook Marketplace,” he laughed as he told the media.
“You can’t find ankle boots anywhere. And I said, ‘I’m looking for the net and that’s where I had to run.
“Usually you have an operation and at this point you get the cast out of my leg, but the explanation given to me was that if we did that, we wouldn’t have had a chance to play in the finals.”
McDonald was a key contributor to the Demons’ 2021 premiership campaign and finished with two goals in the grand final in Perth.
But he said he doubts the big forward will be able to return in 2022 given the “unpredictable” nature of the injury.
“You do the work, the program you plan. Not getting up is more of a mindset,” he admitted.
“There were probably three or four times and I came home and told (owner Ruby) Rubes, ‘This is not going to happen. I won’t get there.’
“It was just up and down. It’s the worst injury I’ve ever had. It was unpredictable.”
McDonald is looking to continue pressing the AFL’s claims in the VFL in the coming weeks, hoping to be part of another premiership campaign.
“I can go through a game – only if my performance is guaranteed,” he said.
“I think the AFL team is good enough to go back so I want to be a part of that.”