Cats Menzel primed for return to big stage

If Geelong AFL forward Daniel Menzel was even a little bit superstitious he’d stay safely within the confines of his own home on Friday night.

Instead, he’ll be at the MCG to play his first final since that fateful night in September of 2011, when he suffered what would be the first of four ruptured anterior cruciate ligaments that threatened his AFL career.

The Cats’ qualifying final clash against old foes Hawthorn is packed with intriguing storylines but it’s hard to beat Menzel’s return to the big stage for feel-good factor.

“I’ve had a lot of people message to say that it’s five years to the night against the same team at the same ground in the same final, which is uncanny, but to be honest it won’t even cross my mind,” Menzel said on Wednesday.

“We’ve done so much work in the gym and on the training track and got through so many games now – I know the work you put in does pay off.

“I know that my body is strong and will hold up.”

Menzel missed all of the `12, `13 and `14 seasons and most of 2015 as he went through the mentally and physically draining rehabilitation from four major knee operations.

The most painful part of it all was that he missed Geelong’s 2011 grand final win, which is something he admitted took him a while to let go.

“It’s one that throughout my rehab I struggled with at times after missing out … I held onto that a fair bit,” he said.

“It did drive and motivate me but after speaking with psychologists who helped me overcome the pain of not being part of that you don’t really think about that (any more) because it might make you down or flat or negative.”

Menzel called a groin injury suffered in round 20 as a blessing in disguise that has allowed him to freshen up for the Cats’ finals campaign.

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