PORT Fairy goal defence Emma O’Keeffe is resigned to coaching from the sidelines in 2014.
O’Keeffe saw a specialist on Tuesday who confirmed she needed surgery on a persistent knee injury.
The second-year Seagulls mentor has opted to wait until after her wedding in Fiji in seven weeks’ time before having the season-ending procedure.
O’Keeffe won’t play any games in the lead-up to her wedding and will be on crutches for six weeks after the surgery.
The former Warrnambool player said a lengthy rehabilitation process would follow.
“I am six weeks on crutches and I will be three to six months off running,” O’Keeffe said.
“I’ll be walking through the pool and riding. It’s like I’ve done a knee reco basically but it’s bone.
“I stepped in this hole not long ago and it aggravated the piece of dead bone there.
“It’s pushed up into my actual leg bone and it’s been there that long that it won’t regenerate.
“They have to take that bit out, do a bone graft, fill it and put the bone back in and then screw it in, so they have to open up the top of my knee and everything.”
O’Keeffe, 25, said the injury was the most significant of her career. She had hoped to play in the second half of the season but will now focus solely on coaching.
“I thought I might need an arthroscope but now I am done for the year and have got no hope really,” she said.
“I was surprised because I’d seen a couple of specialists and they said ‘this is a new injury from when you stepped in the hole in October or November’, because my knee hyper-extended and twisted in and I thought it was from that.
“The guy I saw yesterday, the surgeon who deals with a lot of AFL players, said ‘no this is an old injury, you would have had this from when you grew when you were 13 or 15’.
“I have always had a sore knee but just assumed it was netball.
“It (the bone) was always sitting there waiting to go off, so I suppose in a way I am lucky I found it now and not 10 years down the track.”
O’Keeffe said the injury-enforced lay off, while frustrating, would help develop her coaching.
“Dad is like ‘you’ll be able to think of some good drills and trainings’,” she said.
“That will be a really good challenge for my coaching, bringing up all the young kids.
“I’ll be fine on the sidelines. Boag’s Cup I didn’t play which was all right.
“It is probably just hard getting around on crutches to be honest, getting to training and the games.”
O’Keeffe said Port Fairy, which finished third in 2013 before suffering a straight sets finals exit, was capable of playing finals again despite a number of list changes.
She said reigning league 15 and under best and fairest winner Carly Watson had been elevated to A grade and would play a significant role in the goal circle.
“We’ll have a good side when we’re on the court but we need everyone there I think,” she said.
Port Fairy starts its season against Koroit on April 5.