Williams silences internal doubts in Blues’ comeback

Shayne Hope |

Zac Williams had 19 disposals at 79 per cent efficiency as Carlton beat the Lions in Brisbane.
Zac Williams had 19 disposals at 79 per cent efficiency as Carlton beat the Lions in Brisbane.

Zac Williams doubted whether he would be up to playing at AFL level again, before completing his comeback from a long injury lay-off in Carlton’s remarkable win over the Brisbane Lions.

Williams had 19 disposals at 79 per cent efficiency as the Blues reeled in a 46-point deficit to win by one point at the Gabba on Friday night.

The 29-year-old defender had spent 18 months out of action, having ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament in February last year, and had featured in just one senior match since May 2022.

“There were periods of time in the last 12 months that you always question (whether) you’re going to get back to that level,” Williams told reporters on Saturday.

“I had great help in my rehab, and the support I had around me put faith in me to be able to get back to where I am.

“But even leading into the game there was always that little mindset of, ‘Can I get back and play at this level?’.

“Once I got out there and the ball was bounced I felt very comfortable and felt ready to go.”

Zac Williams (centre)
Zac Williams (centre) is congratulated by teammates after making his return from injury for Carlton. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

It was an emotional occasion for Williams, who had his wife and daughter on hand at the Gabba to witness his comeback match.

It was also his first game since his sister Sammy lost her battle with cancer in June last year.

Williams had Sammy’s name written on the tape around his left wrist.

“It was a bit of a weird feeling putting her on there,” Williams said.

“It was probably something that I was uncomfortable doing, but she was out there with me last night, so it was pretty special.”

Carlton received some good news when George Hewett escaped with a $2500 fine for striking Brisbane’s Lachie Neale.

The act was assessed by the AFL match review officer as careless conduct, low impact and high contact.

Dual Brownlow medallist Neale was fined the same amount for his retaliation, with his swing at Hewett’s stomach region deemed intentional conduct, low impact and body contact.

AAP