MAJAK Daw gave a triumphant fist pump as North Melbourne captain Jack Ziebell confirmed the popular Kangaroos defender would play his first AFL game in more than 700 days.
The challenges Daw has faced since his last top-flight appearance in round 23, 2018 make Saturday’s comeback match against Adelaide one of the more-inspiring tales in AFL history.
There were fears he would never play again after suffering serious hip and pelvic injuries in a fall from the Bolte Bridge in December 2018.
A pioneer as the first Sudanese-born player to debut in the AFL, the chances of Daw adding to his 50 games seemed slim at best after the incident.
But the 29-year-old will slot back into the Roos’ defence for the Metricon Stadium clash as they attempt to snap a six-game losing streak.
On Ziebell announcing Daw’s inclusion at training on Wednesday, Roos teammates mobbed the journeyman to congratulate him.
“One of our own has been through a pretty substantial period in his life,” Ziebell said.
“We’ve all been part of the journey and it’s been 706 days since he’s played AFL football.
“This feat that’s he’s going to achieve this weekend is going to be one of the great stories in AFL footy.”
Daw was on track to play in round one against St Kilda, but was ruled out with a minor cold as a precaution when COVID-19 started in March.
His comeback dreams for this year might have been over when he tore a pectoral muscle in May in a gym accident.
But he was lucky to avoid surgery, impressing in recovery and at training and during scratch matches in Queensland.
Selected by North in the 2010 rookie draft, Daw debuted in 2013 and kicked 40 goals in his 50 games to date.
In 2018, he was used as a permanent defender and enjoyed a career-best season, earning ‘elite’ status from Champion Data’s ranking system.
(C) AAP 2020