Tautau Moga is inching closer to returning to the Sydney Roosters following a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), with the club hoping the centre will be able to return through the Holden Cup possibly as soon as two weeks.
The inside word is thay the 19-year-old centre is training extremely well, and officials are hopeful he’ll be fit to play against the Bulldogs in NYC in round 15 — although much will depend on how he pulls up this week and next at training.
Moga — considered a future star by most league commentators — twisted his knee while turning to catch a kicked ball at training in November. The original diagnosis was that he’d make a full recovery by midway through the 2013 season.
He made his first grade debut last year, showing tremendous speed and power in spurts throughout but also showing his defence needs some work.
In those 14 games he had seven tries, 10 line breaks, and 54 tackle busts (3.9 a game) while making 93 tackles (6.6 a game) and missing 26 (1.9 a game) with a little over one error a match.
It remains unclear how early he will be able to return to the top grade, with an ACL injury one of the tougher injuries to return from with full confidence straight off the bat.
While it is a completely different sport, basketball has had its fair share of ACL injuries in the past two seasons, and two in particular may give many an insight into how tough it is to return from such an injury.
Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose (left) tore his ACL in the first game of the 2012 playoffs in April, and did not return at all this season. There was much debate around whether he should return in the playoffs, as he was reportedly working out at training and the Bulls could’ve used the former MVP against LeBron James and the Miami Heat, but a lack of confidence in his knee stopped him from suiting up.
Meanwhile, Iman Shumpert of the New York Knicks also tore his ACL in the same playoffs. He returned in January and it was only during the playoffs in April and May when he found his shot, athleticism and timing again. Upon his return he made just 34 per cent and 26 per cent of his shots in January and February respectively (not good), before bumping it up to 47.1 per cent in March and 41 per cent in April (much better).
In short, Moga’s confidence in running back into tackles will be a big issue to overcome, and it’s understandable. But even if he does, it’s unlikely he will have the explosiveness, timing and match fitness to waltz straight back into first grade. Given it’s Round 14 now, and it’s been a seven-month layoff, it may be tough for Moga to squeeze back in later in the season, especially since Shaun Kenny-Dowall has come out and said he is happy at the Roosters and won’t be leaving any time soon.
Regardless, the kid has a massive future and has impressed those at the Roosters in coming back from a serious knee injury. Still only 19, he can work his way back to full fitness and timing without the rigours of first grade to contend with.
Hopefully fans are patient, and haven’t forgotten forget how good this kid potentially is.