West Coast forward Mark LeCras hasn’t given up hope of making a shock return during this year’s finals series, and his teammates are urging him to take the punt in a bid for premiership glory.
LeCras was initially ruled out for the year after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during pre-season training in February.
But the 25-year-old has recovered exceptionally well from surgery, and proved his comeback was well ahead of schedule by running strongly on Monday.
LeCras was bitterly disappointed at missing out on West Coast’s 2006 premiership triumph, and Eagles ruckman Dean Cox said he would be thrilled if the 2010 All-Australian was able to return for this year’s flag tilt.
“Certainly we’d love to have him back,” Cox said on Monday.
“We just think he’s so valuable for our footy side that if it does happen, he’s going to add a really dangerous weapon come September.
“I don’t think he’d play if there was any doubt of him re-injuring himself, so it would just be a matter of getting himself right and then hopefully you’ll see him in an Eagles jumper some time this year.
“Some people come back in five or six months, some people take the whole year.
“It’s certainly a risk you’d think about though.”
Eagles premiership defender Sam Butler said LeCras was optimistic he could be back for finals.
“He’s set himself a goal and it helps him with his rehab and helps his mindset,” said Butler.
“But any small problem he has is going to rule him out, so he has to be careful.
“But at the same time he has to throw caution to the wind because historically it has taken 12 months to get back from what he’s had.”
Cox said it would be more realistic for the team to prepare for the return of key forward Josh Kennedy, who is on track to resume in the WAFL in around seven weeks’ time.
“As long as there’s no hiccups, he’ll be a really strong focal point come September,” Cox said of Kennedy, who injured his ankle earlier this year.
“You see the grand final teams, they have some big forwards that can really have an impact on the scoreboard, and that’s certainly what he gives us.”
Third-placed West Coast were dominant in last week’s 126-point thrashing of Gold Coast, but will face a far sterner test against the in-form Kangaroos in Hobart on Saturday.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will establish a royal commission into the Northern Territory's youth justice system.