Oscar Sasalu makes impressive comeback following scary concussion
Written by Jarryd Barca
Oscar Sasalu’s Round 5 NAB League performance turned plenty of heads; not only was it an influential output from the Calder ruckman but he was involved in a sickening concussion just one round earlier.
It was five minutes into the Cannons’ away match against Tasmania in Round 4 when the 192cm utility was knocked out in a friendly-fire marking contest, resulting in a seizure and leaving the squeamish distressed.
The Easter bye week separated the two rounds with doctors giving him the green light to compete against the Geelong Falcons.
Sasalu’s availability proved critical and his return to the field was admirable, being named in the best players.
“I don’t really remember anything from the concussion, so I thought I’d try not to let it bother me when I played today,” Sasalu said following the Cannons’ drought-breaking win on the weekend.
“I just didn’t think about it at all because there’s nothing you can do to stop yourself getting concussed, it’s an accident so just play how you usually play.
“The recovery was alright, I just had a headache for a couple of days.”
Sasalu recorded 13 touches, 17 hit-outs, two tackles and kicked a crucial final-quarter goal when it was just a one-point ball game.
“That’s the best game I’ve seen him play by a long way,” midfield coach Brett Gourley said.
“To come back from what happened to Oscar down in Tassie is tough in itself but to come back and play the way that he did today I thought was just exceptional.
“He was influential in the ruck, went forward and made an impact as well and got to a lot of marking contests as well so we were really pleased with the comeback from Oscar.”
It was the first time in five years the Cannons defeated the Falcons in the Under 18 boys competition.
Geelong’s winning streak against Calder looked to be continuing when they booted the only two goals of the first term.
But the breakthrough victory came in the form of a hard-fought see-sawing contest at a windy Highgate Recreation Reserve, with the home team scraping through with a 8.11 to 8.4 win – the fourth time in five matches the Cannons have registered more behinds than goals.
“Inaccuracy has come back to haunt us a few times this year but we were lucky enough to have a few opportunities going forward and I guess it didn’t impact the result in the end,” Gourley said.
“We were off to a pretty slow start once again and I thought we let ourselves down just after half time as well.
“It was nice to get the win but we just need to start putting together four quarters of consistent football a bit more.”
Steering things back on track for their second win of the season was a big highlight from the weekend according to Gourley, but no matter the result it’s the connection between the current group of players that stands out the most.
“It’s really good to see them always sane and always positive – they work really hard,” he said.
“I think the close wins always bond the group and if you can manage a few of those you can sort of see how tight it does make the group, so the boys were ecstatic with the win today and you could see it on their faces when they came off. We’re really pleased.”
Calder’s four unanswered goals in the second quarter was responded by Geelong who all but levelled the contest to 40-39 at three-quarter time.
Gourley said the coaches’ message at the break was to keep things simple and go back to the basics.
“If we continued to apply enough pressure then the opportunities would come going forward so it was nothing different, but it was just continue to be consistent with our application and effort.”