K rock Football

Cocky eyes AFL return in 2019

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

ELECTRIC midfielder Nakia Cockatoo has set his sights on regaining his AFL spot in time to play a role in Geelong’s premiership push this season.

The speedster shapes as a possible September X-factor for the Cats after emerging unscathed from his first competitive hit-out in over a year.

Cockatoo played half a game in the VFL on Sunday and gathered only six disposals in the win over Port Melbourne, but had a significant impact around the contest with a series of bone-crunching tackles.

His slam-tackle on 105kg Borough ruckman Michael Wenn in the opening minute of the match was a highlight.

“It felt amazing getting back out there and playing the Geelong way again,” Cockatoo said.

“It was pretty congested, and the first 10 minutes was real hot, but I found a little groove there.

“I got a few handballs and a few kicks, so I was pretty happy with my performance today.

“I didn’t have any problems (with the knee) at all. I couldn’t feel it, just worried about my game and stuck to that.”

Geelong’s plan is to have Cockatoo play three quarters in the VFL clash with North Melbourne next week before releasing the shackles.

The 22-year-old is hopeful of adding to his 34 AFL games this season.

“There’s a bit of footy left, but I’ve just got to get back in there, get a few more kicks and see how the next two weeks goes,” Cockatoo said.

“It just comes back to how I recover now and make sure I’m doing everything right to get up for the next week.

“It’s been really hard work in the gym the last couple of months, and everything’s coming together now, which is nice.”

Geelong VFL coach Shane O’Bree was impressed with Cockatoo’s return in the 23-point win.

“He didn’t get a hell of a lot of the ball, but he’s a huge impact player with his intensity around the contest,” O’Bree said.

“The other guys felt a bit bigger and stronger with Cocky around the ball. He’s amazing with the impact he has without getting the ball a lot of the time.”

Twitter: @shayne_hope