Kangaroos big man Nick Larkey has returned to training after undergoing surgery last week in relation to an abnormal heart rhythm that impacted his 2019 campaign.
Doctors diagnosed Larkey with SVT (Supraventricular tachycardia) in July, a condition that Carlton ruckman Matthew Kreuzer and former North Melbourne player Leigh Adams also suffered from.
Larkey had a cardiac ablation procedure last week to scar or destroy tissue that causes an atypical heart rhythm.
“There’s just like a tiny little hair hole in (my heart), so I think it’s actually a pretty common procedure – they do about 150-odd a year, the surgeon was saying,” Larkey told reporters earlier on Friday.
“They go through your leg, which is amazing, then they come up, find the hole, burn over it and come out, so it was over in about an hour and I stayed in (hospital) overnight but I’m feeling good.
“My heart rate would go from real low sometimes to real quick, just like that, and you’d have to come off, lie down and then it’d go back to normal, so it was just good to hit it on the head.
“It wasn’t life-threatening or anything, it just made you feel a bit dizzy and it was all better when you lay flat on the ground but it’s good to hit it on the head and now it’s gone, hopefully.”
Larkey was taken off the ground in the Kangaroos five-point loss to Essendon in July and missed the fourth quarter of the club’s game against the Bombers in the VFL in April.
“I might ease back into training today, (but) I feel pretty good,” he said.
“Hopefully I get a full session in today but I took it easy the last few days and I’m back into it – I shouldn’t be too load managed.
“I sort of noticed it in my first year (in 2017) and the episodes were few and far between, so it wasn’t something that happened all the time. It was pretty random, actually.”
The 21-year-old enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, kicking 26 goals from 17 matches and winning a rising star nomination in round 16 against the Saints.
Larkey was also rewarded with a new two-year deal to remain at Arden Street until the end of the 2021 season, with the club hopeful he can build a strong partnership alongside fellow tall-forward Ben Brown.
“He’s an absolute ripping fella, he’s a nice guy, and he’s just so keen to make everyone feel better,” Larkey said of Brown.
“In our eyes here, he should be dual All Australian and probably dual Coleman but he’s been very stiff, but … he’s all for the team.
“In my opinion, he’s the best goalkicker in the League and so to learn off someone like him is a privilege.”
Larkey kicked three or more goals on four occasions, including two bags of five, but also failed to kick more than one goal in 12 games.
Larkey will hope to improve on his consistency and find a more dependable role when he’s not kicking for goal.
“As a key-position forward, my disposal numbers have never been really high,” Larkey said.
“So finding ways I can impact the game (is a focus) or making sure that when I do have a chance to impact the game that I really take that.
“That will be a big thing for me this year, I think – hopefully taking a few more contested marks, just bigger things that impact the game, because I feel I’m more of an impact player at the moment.
“I’m definitely not an accumulator, so I think all the little things you do in pre-season and at training and times like now are going to help me in those games where I can impact a bit more.”