Cruel blow for Morabito

10 January 2013 19:52:43 GMTPlus10

Fremantle's Anthony Morabito can count himself the unluckiest player in the AFL, after suffering yet another serious injury.

The 21-year-old has ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament for the third time, and faces another knee reconstruction if he is to continue with his career. He has not played an AFL game since 2010, and leading sports doctor Peter Larkins fears this could be the final straw for him.

There's not too many players that have had three reconstructions on the same knee and played anywhere near the same level of football.

Peter Larkins

The midfielder was taken with pick no.4 in the 2009 draft, after winning the WAFL Rising Star award with Peel. He had an outstanding first season in the AFL in 2010, highlighted by his goal in the Elimination Final against Hawthorn. But that was to be the extent of his contribution to the Dockers, as he suffered an ACL rupture during the 2011 pre-season.

His hopes of recovering were dashed when the same thing happened again in July last year. Morabito was training at Fremantle Oval on Wednesday when he stepped sideways to tackle and fell to the ground clutching his left knee. Scans revealed he had torn the graft on his reconstructed left ACL, and Larkins says history suggests a third knee reconstruction may be futile.

"There's not too many players that have had three reconstructions on the same knee and played anywhere near the same level of football," he said. "From a technical point of view, the surgery can be done but it does create an issue knowing what sort of tissue the player then makes.

"There could be potentially a genetic component to (the knee injury), which is not going to be altered no matter how good your surgeon is.

"The other big component is the confidence and psychology of it, having done it three times.

"He has got a massive hurdle to overcome in the way of confidence and that's why I would be very guarded to think that he's going to play top footy again."

Morabito's manager, Colin Young, said: "He's devastated obviously, he was flying and looking like having a great year.

"I spoke to him briefly. Obviously, third time around not many people go through that, so it's hard to put yourself in his shoes."

Fremantle are 4/1 to win the 2013 Grand Final, while Hawthorn can be backed at 16/1.

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