Menzel finally returns to AFL

Darcy Lang made his AFL debut four years after Geelong teammate Daniel Menzel and has only played one less senior game.

Four knee reconstructions will do that to a football career.

Menzel was recalled for Friday night’s must-win match against Collingwood – his first AFL appearance since the 2011 qualifying final.

Lang said Menzel had earned plenty of respect for how the forward had dealt with his wretched run of knee injuries.

“Everyone is going to be very happy for him, because he’s been toiling away day after day for about four years,” Lang said.

“We’re going to be pretty excited with what he can bring to the table.

“There are probably not too many expectations on him – just enjoy himself.”

It has also been a big week for Lang, who was named the Rising Star nominee.

Lang is among only six Cats to play every game this season, bringing him to 20 after one senior appearance last year.

“I’m definitely still trying to find my way,” Lang told AAP.

“But to have played every game was my goal going into the start of the year, to cement my spot on the team.

“There’s still plenty of work to do.

“I’m still having to pinch myself every now and then – just to make sure it’s all real and happening.

“A couple of years ago, this is what I was dreaming of (and) it’s a bit surreal.”

But the individual achievements at Geelong this week run a distant second to their flickering finals hopes.

If ninth-placed Geelong beat Collingwood and West Coast beat Adelaide, it will come down to the Cats’ home game next weekend against the Crows.

Collingwood are coming off a 91-point loss to Richmond, while Geelong were lucky to escape with a draw against St Kilda.

“We had to move on from that game pretty quickly,” Lang said of last weekend.

“As much as we would have liked to have won and played well, the result wasn’t as bad as we initially felt.

“We just want to get in there and do the job – get a win.”

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