NEAFL premiership player Connor Owen-Auburn will make his long-awaited return to football this weekend via the AFL Canberra competition playing with the Gungahlin Jets.
The 19-year-old hasn’t played a competitive game of football since Round 3 of the 2017 NEAFL season when he fractured a bone in his foot playing for GWS against the Canberra Demons at Allan Ray oval.
Having completed his rehabilitation program Owen-Auburn was set to return last month but was dealt a cruel blow when he suffered a minor hamstring injury during a training run.
"Unfortunately, after doing the regular Saturday running session before the boys faced off against Aspley my hamstring pulled up a bit tight. Too tight for our physio's liking which resulted in us delaying my comeback.
We just didn't see the point of risking anything.
Casey and Liam have done an amazing job with my rehab plan, so I trusted their call. Honestly, it's been 12 months, what was another week or two."
Running out for his first game in over a year, Owen-Auburn admits the nerves have only just hit him.
"It only hit me today that running out for Gungahlin on Saturday means running out for the first time in over 12 months, my heart rate went up, butterflies hit the stomach and started playing the game in my head a bit.
Strangely enough I'm also excited to make a few mistakes. It gives me the chance to start retuning my game. The best way to get better is to make mistakes I think and obviously I haven't lost the dream to be on an AFL list and the only way I can do that is by playing the best footy I possibly can.”
Owen-Auburn will become the latest Demon to return from injury by means of the Gungahlin Jets, in the AFL Canberra competition this season, and the 19-year-old is already dreaming of his potential Canberra Demons debut later this season.
"To be able to pull on the jersey would mean I have the chance to repay the faith the club has shown me, to prove to the players and coaches that I didn't come here just run laps.
I want to help this club make finals and ultimately win the flag, but I can't do that from the sidelines, so I'll do my time with Gungahlin and wait for the nod.”
Everyone at the Canberra Demons and the extended footballing community wish Connor all the best for this weekend.