Ironman to test Markworth’s worth

A TWO-WEEK Gold Coast training burst with former ironman champion Trevor Hendy will signal a turning point in Daniel Markworth’s rehabilitation from a knee reconstruction.

The St Kilda youngster will head to Queensland next week to work with Hendy, capping months of monotonous laps and gym work.

When he returns, he’ll join in non-contact training with his teammates; something that has the 21-year-old pumped after a year of cautious movement.

“Even this week, I was doing some full ground drills, kicking and stuff, so I might be working just as hard but it beats running laps,” Markworth told AFL.com.au.

“I woke up today pretty excited to train, which hasn’t been the case too often.

“It will be good to come back and see where I’m at because it’s good when the boys get excited when they see you running around again and getting back into full pace … it’s good fun.”

Hendy was on the Saints’ Colorado training camp as a “high performance ambassador” in December last year, which was where Markworth tore his right anterior cruciate ligament.

An innocuous training incident days before the trip’s end caused the injury. Markworth had been running at full pace, went to put pressure on a teammate and hesitated for a split second about whether to lay a tackle.

The indecision saw his leg collapse and omit a crack that instantly made Markworth believe he had broken a bone.

“I was yelling … I don’t remember too much pain, it was more the shock of, ‘Oh crap, I’m not going to be able to get up’,” Markworth said.

“The pain went away pretty quick and they said ACL pretty quickly to me so it was obvious.

“It took a bit to sink in. I said, ‘Yeah, so how many weeks?’ They were like, ‘More like months, Dan’.”

After the diagnosis and before returning to Australia, coach Scott Watters and Hendy told Markworth they would endeavour to break up his rehabilitation by sending him north when he was up to it.

It was a small thing that seemed so far away with the operation and recovery to come first, but it was something for Markworth to focus on.

He told his family of the injury via Skype with his mother Ann taking it hard.

“She was shattered; she feels all the emotions for me,” he said.

He flew back to Australia in business class after high performance manager Bill Davoren gave him his own upgraded seat, and was operated on five days before Christmas.

His presents had to be delivered to him but he largely slept through the festive period.

“Christmas wasn’t too fun for me,” he recalled.

Nearly seven months on, Markworth is now facing that training trip he talked about while digesting the news of the diagnosis but still doesn’t know what to expect.

Hendy has told him to bring his bike, he expects to spend some time in the surf, and, naturally, getting miles in his legs on dry land.

One thing he has been promised is that he’ll come back in “tip top condition”.

“I’m excited but I can’t imagine it’s going to be too easy,” Markworth said.

The talented forward isn’t going to play football this year. It probably could have happened towards the season’s end but the decision was made early on to focus on getting 100 per cent ready for 2014.

Markworth was close to playing seniors in his debut season last year. He was named emergency on three occasions, and looking back now, realises he was closer than he thought.

In the upcoming off-season, he thinks he’ll go on holiday when the rest of the players do, visit Europe and one of his four brothers in Germany, and then celebrate another brother’s wedding in Port Douglas in November.

After signing a one-year contract extension in April, he’ll then look forward to what next season has in store.

“Once the knee happened, [the contract] was put forward to me pretty quickly – they wanted to get rid of any doubts,” he said.

“[The injury] was disappointing but I hadn’t got too far ahead of myself anyway so it wasn’t as devastating as it could have been.

“It’s just a long build up to my first game.”