K rock Football

A small step forward for Cocky

Nakia Cockatoo in action on his return to football in Geelong’s VFL win over Port Melbourne. (Geelong Cats Image/Arj Giese)

NAKIA Cockatoo will take another step forward in what all Geelong fans hope will be a return to AFL action when he lines up in match practice for non-selected players against Carlton on Saturday afternoon.

Cats coach Chris Scott confirmed on Wednesday morning that Cockatoo, who played the last of his 34 AFL matches in Round 3, 2018, will be involved in the match simulation against the Blues.

However, Scott isn’t placing too many expectations on the luckless 23-year-old appearing at the elite level any time soon.

“I don’t think we need to get out the brass band for Nakia just yet. It will be a couple of blocks of match sim for him against Carlton.

“But, at least from a load perspective, it won’t be a jump at all on what he’s been doing.

“But, we know the tension rises when you’ve got a genuine opposition there.

“I said it’s a very small step for him, but it’s a significant milestone, I guess, in that he hasn’t been able to do that for a very long period of time.

“But, we don’t want to put too much pressure on him. There’s still quite a few steps between this week and him getting back to AFL level.

“We’re excited about it; we just don’t want to get prematurely optimistic because that’s proved mentally challenge for me in the past in particular.

Jack Steven (stab wound) and Jake Kolodjashnij (hip) are likely to join Cockatoo in the early game.

However, former Adelaide star Josh Jenkins continues to battle a back injury.

“It’s a back problem that’s going to hold him up for a little bit; we’re not exactly sure how long,” Scott said.

“It’s a facet joint issue that can turn around really quickly or linger a little bit. To be honest, it’s lingering a bit longer than we would have liked right at the moment, so that rules him out of next week.

“It’s a bit of a shame for Josh because he was in pretty good shape, too.”

With Gary Rohan suffering no lingering effects of an ankle issue sustained during the win over Hawthorn, the Cats are a strong chance of being unchanged for the clash with the winless Blues.

Scott said strong availability is a good problem to have.

“But there are other issues that are a little bit unchartered for us,” he said.

“We’ve got some guys who we think are in really good training form, and have benefitted well from the lockdown.

“But Jake Kolodjashnij hasn’t played footy since the finals last year; Jack Steven’s only played the Colac game in Marsh 2.

“We didn’t have the opportunity for match practise last week, which is disappointing for us, but we do this week.

“We’re just trying to work through whether we change a team that’s in good form – albeit off only one game – and fit when we’ve got the opportunity to get some match practise into those guys and make the more conservative call.”

Twitter: @tom_king79

Click below to listen to Chris Scott’s entire media conference.