Cats not put off by Darcy Lang’s unlucky break

Darcy Lang

Mention the Lang name around Colac and sport is the first thing that comes to mind.

Geelong’s newest recruit, Darcy Lang, had been continuing the family tradition in his local area until the Cats came calling with pick No.16 in Thursday’s AFL draft.

“I watched the draft at home with my mum, dad and my sisters, and I wasn’t really expecting anything to happen too early,” Lang told AFL.com.au.

“I was in a bit of shock when my name was read out. I was hoping to be drafted in the 30s, so I didn’t know what to do. I just sat on the couch and took it all in.

“Then a few people came over to help celebrate the draft and my birthday, and I started getting heaps of messages. It’s been super.”

Growing up, Lang excelled in the traditional country town sports, playing football for Colac and cricket for Warrion, just as his father Phil, who is president of the Warrion Cricket Club, had before him.

AFL clubs rated Lang highly, but the youngster who turned 18 on draft day had gone off the radar a little when a broken leg and dislocated ankle suffered at the under-18 championships forced the Geelong Falcon to miss the second half of the season.

“As soon as it happened, I was very disappointed. I thought, ‘This could be it.’ I might not get another chance,” Lang said.

“But once I’d had all the scans, the doctors said I would make a full recovery. I just needed to be patient.

“It’s hard to put a timeline on my recovery, just because it’s a unique injury. Getting the mobility back into my ankle has taken a lot of time.

“But I’ve been running, very slowly, and I’ll gradually build that up. Hopefully, I’ll be back up to speed by February.”

Lang’s absence made the depth of his talent a little tricky to assess, but Cats recruiting boss Stephen Wells saw enough before the leg snapped to call his name with confidence.

“Having played mainly with the Falcons as a midfielder – certainly all of last year and for the first half of this year – we saw enough improvement in him and enough class in the way he went about his business as a midfielder to attract our interest,” Wells said.

Of course, in an ideal world the recruiting team would have seen Lang play more games. But once the medical report confirmed he was on track to make a full recovery from the leg injury – which meant he only played seven TAC Cup games in 2013 – Geelong didn’t hesitate.

“When we reviewed all that Darcy has achieved in the last 18 months, and the fact he had so much improvement left in him still because he had hardly done a pre-season because he had been so devoted to his cricket … we were comfortable to make that call,” Wells said.

It was a brave call but entirely logical.

A cursory look at Lang’s footage reveals a player who has time and balance around a contest, is willing to make space to deliver the ball carefully and makes second and third efforts as a matter of course.

Lang is a talented cricketer too, his left-arm bowling and left-handed batting good enough for him to play with Warrion’s firsts until rehabilitation from the broken leg took priority this summer.

Such is Lang’s love of sport he was hoping to keep wearing the whites for a while longer until wiser heads prevailed.

He has made do with turning up to watch the local team play while strengthening the leg and wondering where the draft might send him.

“To be honest, I had no idea (the Cats) were so keen on me,” Lang said. “They only spoke to me once at the draft combine, which was just a very informal chat. That was it, really.”

Added Wells: “What he had done up until when he broke his leg was enough for us. Darcy comes from a terrific sporting family, a terrific family and has been a really good player for the Geelong Falcons.”

Geelong skipper Joel Selwood is among the senior players who have already contacted Lang to welcome him to the Cattery.

“I’ve had a lot of calls and messages,” he said. “I’ll be extremely nervous when I go down there for my first training session, but I’m sure the boys will be all good.”

There will have been a buzz at Warrion Cricket Club on Saturday when the club took on Stoneyford. But the players’ thoughts will have been partly on football, as one of their own is heading just down the road to the big show.

To watch Lang’s highlights click here Video from ALF.com