HIGHLY-rated AFL draft prospect Lewis Taylor is shattered a serious foot injury has ended his TAC Cup premiership dreams.
Taylor, 18, will undergo surgery on a stress fracture in his left foot next week, ruling him out of Geelong Falcons’ flag tilt.
The Terang Mortlake midfielder said he carried the injury throughout his final underage season and the AFL under 18 national championships.
Taylor starred for Vic Country at the talent-laden carnival, captaining the side and winning All-Australian honours.
The 174-centimetre speedster finally had scans on his foot last week and missed the Falcons’ final home-and-away game last Saturday.
A visit to a specialist on Monday confirmed the season-ending injury.
“I am pretty shattered and it’s just before finals too,” Taylor told The Standard.
“The plan is to get it right. It’s better to get it right now.
“They reckon I was lucky to play as much footy as I did because it was close to snapping.
“I’ve never had a serious injury like this before.”
Taylor, considered a top-20 pick in November’s AFL national draft, said the injury was the worst of his decorated junior career.
“The pain was the worst before I went away to the AIS trip,” he said.
“I couldn’t train. I saw a foot specialist in Geelong who showed me a way to strap it and ease the pain.
“I played the year and then had a CT scan which showed a crack in the bone.
“They said the bone was not going to heal by itself so to get surgery.”
Taylor said he expected the surgery to sideline him for up to 10 weeks.
He will be unable to complete any physical testing at the AFL draft combine in October.
“In seven or eight weeks you’re back on the bike and in 10 weeks you should be running,” he said.
Taylor said he would tackle his rehabilitation in a positive manner and hoped AFL recruiters noticed his attitude.
“You can’t get too comfortable,” he said of his draft hype.
“I can show I do everything I can while I am injured that is my main goal.”
Geelong Falcons play Calder Cannons in a qualifying final at Carlton’s Princes Park on Saturday.
Kolora-Noorat’s Nick Bourke, a close friend of Taylor’s, will take strong form into the finals campaign.
Taylor, who thanked his employers Marg and Damian Lee for their consideration regarding his injury, said he would watch the Falcons play finals.
“If we’re losing it will be twice as bad sitting on the sidelines,” he said.
“I’d hate to see the boys lose.”
Geelong Falcons coach Andy Allthorpe said Taylor’s injury setback wouldn’t impact his draft standing.
“He is shattered he can’t help the boys and be part of it going forward,” he said.
“But the reality is the program is about kids going to the next level and Lewy is a top-20 pick.
“We wouldn’t risk any kid in that situation.”
Allthorpe said Colac draft hopeful Darcy Lang was recovering well from a serious lower leg injury.
Lang fractured his fibula and dislocated his ankle in Vic Country’s final national championships match at Docklands Stadium in June.
“Darcy Lang took his moon boot off and pretty much handed it straight to Lewy,” Allthorpe said.
“He has shoes on and is walking around on crutches.
‘‘He’s upbeat and supporting the boys at training.”