by Daragh Ó Conchúir
Former Kerry minor, Stefan Okunbor is likely to miss the entire AFL season after rupturing his Achilles tendon in training.
An All-Ireland winner at the juvenile grade in 2016, who was names Munster player of the year at U20 level two years later, Okunbor suffered the injury on Wednesday and will have an operation on Sunday.
The 21-year-old, who joined Geelong at the end of 2018, had been targeting a senior breakthrough this year after an excellent run with the reserves in the latter half last season.
Okunbor’s development was initially halted by a groin injury and it is notable how he spoke in subsequent interviews of the mental challenges of not being able to play when so far from home.
Geelong flew his parents out during that period and the Cats will look to keep the Irishman occupied for what will be a much longer rehab.
The Category B rookie also has former Kingdom teammate Mark O’Connor, himself out with a toe injury at present, and the experienced Laois man Zach Tuohy to lean on, as well as the burgeoning crop of Irish AFL and AFLW players based in Melbourne.
He can also look to the example of Greater Western Sydney defencer Zac Williams, who returned to AFL action in August 2018, almost two months ahead schedule, after rupturing his Achilles tendon in January.
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