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Menzel opens up about his battle with injury

Ben Guthrie  December 18, 2014 9:22 AM

Menzel focuses on his return Daniel Menzel believes his return to the field isn't far away.
AFL 2013 Training - Geelong 260213

Daniel Menzel opens up about his mental struggles during his long battle with injury.

GEELONG forward Daniel Menzel has revealed he sought out a psychologist as he tried to come to terms with the mental burden of four consecutive knee reconstructions.

Menzel has had three traditional knee reconstructions and underwent one LARS operation in January 2013.

Unfortunately, the artificial ligament in Menzel's knee ruptured in April that year which forced him onto the sidelines for another full season.

After a fourth reconstruction, Menzel fought his way back and was eyeing a mid-season return in 2014.

But again, his comeback was shut down before it had begun as knee tendinitis began to take hold.

"I was really struggling at that point and it (seeking out a psychologist) was something we identified," Menzel told AFL.com.au.

"It helped dramatically. It really did."

Menzel also sought the advice of former North Melbourne and Sydney Swans great Wayne Schwass who went through his own mental issues during his AFL career.

Schwass has worked extensively in the area of mental health since going public with his battle with depression in 2006.

Menzel said Schwass urged him to find other interests outside of football that would help the Cat take his mind off being injured all the time.

The 23-year-old will again coach the Newtown-Chilwell Under-14 team in Geelong in 2015, while he was also a guest on K-Rock radio's pre-game show throughout 2014.

"I noticed in the past that if I had a setback, I'd go home and sit on my own and wouldn't talk to anyone," Menzel said.

"But what I learned was that you've got to seek out people and do other things to help you move on.

"That's something he told me and it's certainly worked."

Menzel is also putting together his own documentary to track the various stages of his rehabilitation. He is hoping to release the behind the scenes vision – which reveals the ups and the downs of his recovery – in the not too distant future.

"I love being able to help people who have been in similar situations to me, so if my story can help anyone else in any way then that's already a bonus," he said.

Menzel is an unabashed advocate of the traditional knee reconstruction.

"Traditional, I believe, is the way to go. My last ACL was through LARS and there was nothing in it (the incident)," Menzel said.

"That tells me that LARS doesn't suit me and if we do a proper rehab then I should be able to hold up with a traditional ACL operation this time."

Menzel has not played an AFL game since the ill-fated 2011 qualifying final against Hawthorn when his right knee gave way for the first time, in just his 21st game.

His last official match was played in June 2012 when he tore the ACL in his left knee in his comeback game against North Ballarat in the VFL. 

Despite having not played for almost three years, Menzel is confident in his own mind that he can make an immediate impact once his return is complete. 

"I've been in the gym for the last three years, so I'm a lot stronger than what I was and I'm a lot more powerful," he said.

"Picking up the game again and getting used to the pace, that will take time, I'm well aware of that.

"But I believe I'll be able to not only get to the same level, but get even better."