Carlton defender Sam Docherty will make an emotional AFL comeback in Thursday night’s blockbuster against Richmond – just months after undergoing chemotherapy.
The 28-year-old had the treatment after a routine medical check-up in August revealed a recurrence of testicular cancer.
He has since recovered and ticked all the right boxes with the Blues over summer, returning to his optimal playing weight and impressing in a series of pre-season hit-outs.
Docherty’s round-one return was confirmed by new Carlton coach Michael Voss on Monday night.
“It’s an incredible story,” Voss told Fox Footy.
“It really is testament to the person and how resilient and determined he is.”
Voss admitted Docherty’s dream of playing in round one felt like a long shot when the pair met to discuss life and football soon after the new coach’s appointment in September.
“At the time he’d lost a heap of weight,” Voss said.
“He was in full treatment and to see his steady progression was quite amazing.
“It wasn’t all smooth sailing, he’s had some hiccups along the way, but he persisted through it and he’s been able to get this body of work in that’s put him in this position to (return to football).
‘”We wouldn’t in any way be putting him out there with any risk whatsoever, so that just shows how ready he is to be able to play in round one.”
Led by captain Patrick Cripps, Carlton players shaved their heads in October in a show of support for Docherty and to raise funds for the Peter Mac Cancer Foundation.
Voss broke the news of the popular defender’s comeback to the playing group on Monday.
“The boys were pretty happy,” Voss said.
“To see him fit and healthy and walking out there for round one just seems right.
“It wouldn’t seem right launching this new journey without him.
“I know the boys will really love walking out there with him.”