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The Roar


Heartbreak for veteran Blue, young Lion as devastating knee injuries confirmed

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9th March, 2024

Luckless Carlton veteran Sam Docherty has suffered the third anterior cruciate ligament tear of his career to end his AFL season in heartbreaking fashion.

Docherty went down injured in a tackle in the first quarter of Carlton’s dramatic one-point opening-round win over Brisbane at the Gabba on Friday night.

He returned to play before being substituted in the second quarter, with the injury a sour ending to the Blues’ dramatic victory.

Scans on Saturday confirmed a ruptured ACL and meniscus tear in Docherty’s right knee, in the latest setback of a career marked by a horror run with illness and injury.

An All-Australian half-back in 2017, Docherty previously tore back-to-back ACLs – in his left knee – that wiped out his 2018 and 2019 season.

Docherty, 30, underwent chemotherapy for testicular cancer in 2020, then had a recurrence in 2021, which prematurely ended that season.

The much-loved defender and former Blues co-captain made an inspirational return in 2022, then played a key role in last season’s run to a preliminary final.


“Football becomes almost insignificant when you consider all Sam has endured and overcome over the last few years,” Carlton football boss Brad Lloyd said in a statement.

“This news simply isn’t fair, but as Carlton people we love Sam dearly – we will support him through this so he can return to the field when he is ready.

“It won’t just be the entire Carlton family behind Sam, I can safely say the football world no doubt will be as well.

“His impact on our side will certainly be missed on the field, however his impact on his teammates and on the selfless environment we are creating will continue to be profound right throughout the club.

“Sam will throw his heart and soul into helping his teammates get the best out of themselves because that is just the person he is – and he knows we’ll be right alongside him through every step of his rehabilitation.”

Docherty, who has played 168 games, is contracted until the end of next season after signing a new deal last year.


The Lions also suffered a major blow out of the Opening Round clash, with Keidean Coleman suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament of his own in their one-point loss.

Coleman was helped from the field at halftime on Friday night after his left leg clashed with Blues tackler Lachie Fogarty as he kicked.

The Lions had blitzed Carlton early, but in the third term had eight-straight goals kicked on them in a 13.8 (86) to 12.13 (85) loss that ended a 14-game winning streak at their Gabba stronghold.

Coleman was sent for scans on Saturday which confirmed the Lions’ worst fears of a season-ending injury.

“It’s really disappointing news for Keidean, especially in the first game after a strong pre-season and an impressive finals campaign last year,” Lions football manager Danny Daly said in a statement.

“However, Kiddy (Coleman) is only young and has a very bright future ahead of him with the Brisbane Lions, which we all look forward to.

“Kiddy is an extremely positive and calm person, so I am confident those traits will no doubt help him get through his recovery over the coming months.”


Conor McKenna could return from a hamstring injury next week while Will Ashcroft won’t be back until the latter half of this season after his own ACL setback in 2023.

But Coleman’s ball use and dare out of defence will be hard to replace; the 23-year-old was dominant in the first half of last season’s grand final.

“We get disappointed for all the lads with those sorts of injuries, because we know (it’s) a long way back,” Lions coach Chris Fagan said after the round-one defeat.

“It’ll create an opportunity for somebody else, which will be their good fortune.”

Melbourne have also suffered a significant injury blow, losing Jake Bowey to a broken collarbone that requires surgery and will sideline the defender for eight weeks.

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Bowey suffered the injury in a third-quarter spoiling attempt during the Demons’ 22-point defeat to Sydney in the season opener on Thursday night.

“(Bowey) has become an important member of our team, and we’re confident that he will approach his recovery with the same level of commitment that he brings to the game,” Melbourne football manager Alan Richardson said.

Fellow flag contenders Port Adelaide will be without key forward Ollie Lord for the start of the season after a training mishap.

Lord landed heavily in a marking contest on Saturday which caused high-grade bone bruising on his knee and an impaction fracture in his tibia.

The 22-year-old will consult a specialist in the coming days to determine whether surgery is required.

The Power are yet to put a time frame on Lord’s recovery.