K rock Football

Nina “hungry” – McDonald

Geelong young gun Nina Morrison. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

IT is no surprise the word ”hungry” is being used to describe luckless Geelong midfielder Nina Morrison as she closes in on a return from a second knee reconstruction.

The 20-year-old (she turns 21 next month) has been limited to just seven matches in three seasons after being taken with the first pick in the 2018 AFLW Draft.

But Cats captain Meg McDonald says it’s a holistic hunger that Morrison has been displaying in the lead-up to the 2022 season.

“I can understand being really hungry to personally get out there if you’ve missed as much footy as she has,” McDonald said.

“But she keeps saying she’s just got under for team success – ‘I just want us to be really good’. And I’m like, ‘it’s coming, mate. It’s coming’.

“She’s the most popular member of the group, and it’s because of all those things.”

Sidelined after just one match in 2019, in which she earned a Rising Star nomination, Morrison returned to the Geelong line-up in time for the 2020 season.

However, her right knee again gave way on her against North Melbourne in Round 6, which proved to be the Cats’ final round of a season ended by COVID-19.

The timing of Morrison’s second knee injury was always going to make it tough for her to play at AFLW level in 2021; however, if the VFLW season had played as fixtures, she would have returned to action.

“She was close to playing, so it’s a given that she’ll be a huge part of our team this coming season,” McDonald said.

“She continues to lead the way from a physical performance perspective

“She’s been in rehab for a long portion of her career, and the group has always looked to her through that process as someone who puts her head down and gets the job done.

“I feel like that’s behind her now, and she’s at a stage where she’s leading the group, not only with her work ethic.”

Morrison’s return will offset the loss of the experienced Renee Garing.

The 33-year-old announced earlier this week she is pregnant with her and her husband Tony’s first child.

McDonald said while Garing will be missed on the field, she will still impact off the ground.

“She’s assured me there’s no need to replace her in those off-field things,” McDonald said.

“She’s such a wonderful leader, a wonderful person, and has really shown the way for players like myself coming into Geelong what it means to be a Geelong footballer and a member of this community.

“She has a huge appetite to be involved, so I think she’ll be here throughout the season and driving those standards and continuing to improve herself.

“We did our GPS numbers the first night she didn’t do drills with us, and she had more high-speed metres than anyone else just cutting laps around the outside.

“That’s Renee for you.”

Twitter: @tom_king79