EMERGING athlete George Stevens is planning to return "as good as new, if not better" after undergoing a knee reconstruction.
The multi-talented teenager, who has competed in football and basketball at national level, was hurt while playing for South Warrnambool in the Let's Talk Cup, an under 23 pre-season competition.
George, 16, hyper-extended his knee against Koroit in round one, visited surgeon Tim Whitehead in Melbourne last Wednesday and was operated on the following day.
"I'm feeling very positive at the moment and am very, very grateful that in less than a week the surgery was done," he told The Standard.
"When I first found out I was a bit of a wreck for a couple of hours and then you accept it, you acknowledge it and you move on.
"Now it's about doing everything properly so when I come back I am as good as new, if not better.
"There's going to be times when I am pretty flat and pretty down and out but you're not achieving anything sitting here sulking about it, so it's just about putting the head down and doing the rehab properly and still trying to find ways to stay involved."
George is expected to spend 12 months on the sidelines, ruling him out of his bottom-age NAB League season with Greater Western Victoria Rebels.
He was invited to a four-day basketball camp at the AIS in Canberra in January before he was hurt and was informed he'd made the Vic Country AFL Academy two days after he was injured.
The Emmanuel College student wants to remain involved with those high-level programs throughout his recovery and is embracing a positive mindset.
"They have been awesome keeping in touch and they've all said 'you're still a part of our program' and they will continue to work with me so I am fortunate to have their support as well," George said.
"It's about acknowledging I can't play footy, I can't play basketball so move on and now it's 'what's next?'
"Whether it's coaching or going to training and watching or doing film review."
George said his surgeon, who operated on Gold Coast top-10 pick Elijah Hollands before he was drafted into the AFL, had plotted a path back to competition.
It is hoped he will be running in six months' time.
"He is taking a pretty cautious approach with the susceptibility to redoing it at such a young age," George said.
"Everything I do will be done properly and pretty thoroughly. I am going to follow that (program) pretty closely."
Stevens' dad Sam said his son would tackle his recovery with the same vigour he applied to his training.
"I have been impressed with how he's carrying himself and how he's handling it. I am sure it will go up and down at different times," he said.
"If he approaches his rehab in the same way he approaches his preparation then he'll be fine."
Sam said adaptability was crucial for George.
"It's a massive change from being as active as he was - basically his day consisted of 'I'm going to go to school but outside of that I'm going to train for the rest of the day'," he said.
"That is his and (older brother) Archie's approach to every day.
"Mentally George has adjusted. He's like 'it's not ideal and it's not great but it's not the end of the world either'.
"He has an opportunity to tick another box in terms of how he deals with adversity."
The Stevens said they'd received "unbelievable support" since the injury.
"It gives me so much motivation and confidence that I will be fine and I will be able to get through it," George said.
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