SAM Docherty has achieved a significant milestone in his second battle with testicular cancer, with the Carlton co-captain returning to the club.
The 28-year-old was at Carlton’s Ikon Park headquarters on Monday, watching from the sidelines as teammates began pre-season training.
Docherty underwent chemotherapy treatment after a routine medical check-up in August revealed a secondary cancer occurrence.
But his attitude to the cancer battle has galvanised a playing group determined to rebound from a sluggish 2021 campaign that ended in the sacking of coach David Teague.
All Carlton players shaved their heads during the off-season as a fundraiser for the Peter Mac Cancer Foundation and in support of Docherty.
New Blues coach Michael Voss, who Docherty played under in his first two AFL seasons at the Brisbane Lions, said the positive attitude the one-time All-Australian had shown was rubbing off on the entire group.
“Having caught up with him (Docherty) a few times during the last few weeks and just seeing how is energy is and where his focus lies, he’s completely not on himself, it’s all about how the boys are and how they’re training,” Voss said.
“Just his positive approach to it has been fairly inspiring.
“We’ll be guided largely by the docs (about when Docherty resumes training) and even they’ll be guided by how he feels.
“For him at the moment, a significant milestone’s probably been made and that he’s back with us.
“He’s getting back around the group is such a big win and we’ll get him back a little bit more.”
Most of the Blues’ squad returned to training, even though the session was only mandatory for first-to-fourth year players.
Blues legend Greg Williams was also hard at work imparting his wisdom to players, while new Carlton chief executive Brian Cook was present around the boundary.
Recruits Adam Cerra (Fremantle) and Lewis Young (Western Bulldogs) were on deck but there was one man who will not be back.
Liam Jones will leave a hole in defence after opting to retire rather than be vaccinated against COVID-19 – after receiving the jab was made mandatory by the AFL.
“We were disappointed he wasn’t able to join us, but at the same time we respect the decision he’s come to,” Voss said.
“It was always going to come down to individual choice.
“The big thing for us today is the focus is not so much about who’s not here but who is here.
“The conversations that we have with him are quite private and his reasons for that are quite private and we’ll respect that.”
Voss raised Young as a potential replacement down back and also flagged injury-prone tall Mitch McGovern’s potential to switch from forward to defence.
(C) AAP 2021