AFL paves way for Steven’s Cats debut
JACK Steven has declared he will "try" to play against Hawthorn on Friday night after the AFL wrapped up its investigation into his recent stabbing.
The Geelong recruit must prove his fitness on Tuesday before he is considered for selection for the Cats' Round 2 clash at GMHBA Stadium, and while he remained silent on the incident and injury sustained last month, he is endeavouring to be selected for Friday night's blockbuster.
"I feel healthy, and got through what I needed to on Saturday, so main day (on Tuesday) and then get ready for Friday," he said. "I'm going to try (to play)."
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Steven refused to be drawn on the incident, declaring it "just a private matter, so I'm happy just to leave it at that, pretty much".
The league issued a statement Monday, its investigation "completed" and the matter "now closed".
"As per normal procedure, the AFL Integrity Department waited until after Victoria Police had closed its inquiry into the matter, before seeking details from Steven," an AFL spokesman said.
"The AFL Integrity Department is satisfied with Steven's explanation and has determined there was no breach of AFL Rules or breach of any of the COVID-19 protocols that are currently in place.
"While the matter is now closed, the welfare of Steven remains the priority for the AFL and the Geelong Football Club."
However, Victoria Police said on Monday night the investigation "remains ongoing".
"It would be inappropriate to comment further," police spokeswoman Belinda Batty said.
Steven is back in full training and ready to move into match simulation but has only a week of sessions under his belt after being stabbed on May 17.
After a week in hospital and a week walking laps at Geelong coach Chris Scott hasn't yet ruled him out and it would take something special on the training track to risk him off a short preparation.
Cats football boss Simon Lloyd said Geelong had a large majority of their players fully fit.
He said Steven was back in full training with and "getting himself ready".
A slashing performance at training on Tuesday would give the Cats match committee something to think about but Geelong was cautious with Steven's program leading into Round 1 when it didn't play him off a similarly limited preparation.
"He's going well. He's back into full training and he's desperate to get going again and play," Lloyd said.
"He'll start to be introduced to the competitive stuff over the coming sessions.
"Jack is a hard worker, he leaves everything out there on the park and he is in a good frame of mind and he's getting himself ready.
Stonnington Crime Investigation Unit detectives have not laid charges over the May 16 stabbing.
Steven drove himself to Cabrini hospital with a stab wound to the chest in the early hours of Sunday May 17.
He was transferred to the Alfred hospital where he underwent surgery.
The 30-year-old lauded his new home in the wake of the incident, and said it had vindicated his decision to move back to the Surf Coast.
"The Cats have been unbelievable," Steven said.
"I felt really loved and I'd like to thank everyone, really - friends, family and especially the Geelong community and the players have been unbelievable. I'm pretty happy to be down here.
"It's why I came back, just to get a bit of love going."
In other Cats' selection news, Nakia Cockatoo's lingering issues will see him ruled out of selection but Jake Kolodjashnij (hip) is back in full training and Mitch Duncan and Joel Selwood are well progressed after only just making Round 1.
If he was given another week of training he would have an extra eight days before a GMHBA Stadium clash against Carlton on the Saturday night of Round 3.