Nick Maxwell believes Lachlan Keeffe and Josh Thomas face an uphill battle as the pair bid to revive their AFL careers following a two-year suspension.
Keeffe and Thomas addressed the media with Collingwood CEO Gary Pert and Director of Football Neil Balme on Monday to announce their acceptance of ASADA sanctions stemming from their consumption of the banned substance clenbuterol.
Maxwell believes the clubs plans to offer the pair rookie list positions in 2016 attests to the quality of the individuals, however stated that there are challenges ahead for Keeffe and Thomas.
“It’s not just walking back in and thinking you can play AFL footy after two years,” Maxwell told co-host Michael Christian on a special edition of Collingwood Media’s ‘Monday’s With Maxy’.
“They can’t be back at the club until January, 2017. So even if they are picked up by Collingwood or by another club in the rookie draft at the end of this season, in November, they still can’t be at any club training until 2017.
“That’s a long, long when they’ve got to train either together, or on their own with personal trainers or whatever they’re going to do.
“They’ve also got to keep up with the game. They have to make sure they’re watching plenty of football.
“They’ve got to do a lot of work to make sure that when they come back they are capable.”
“We are now committed to starting again + hope to return to the @AFL in 2017,” - Keeffe.— Collingwood FC (@CollingwoodFC) August 10, 2015
Maxwell drew the comparison to a player who has suffered a knee reconstruction to highlight the difficulty the pair face if they are to return to the pace of AFL football.
He stated that it took players 12 months to recover from a dreaded ACL injury, and another 12 months to reach peak form.
The timeframe is the same for Keeffe and Thomas, yet the circumstances are completely different. While they may be selected by Collingwood or another AFL side in this year’s draft, the pair will remain unable to take part in club training or activities until 2017.
“I think mentally is going to be the big one, just to do all that training on their own,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell expressed concern on the issue of illicit drugs in football, stating that players are not adequately educated on the perils of taking illicit substances.
WATCH: CEO Gary Pert's address to members and supporters in regard to the AFL's illicit drugs policy and the suspensions of Lachlan Keeffe and Josh Thomas.
“I think it’s certainly time (for the policy) to be reviewed,” he said.
“Over the last four or five years we’ve seen the challenges society faces with illicit drugs.
“From this point, if a player decides to take illicit drugs and something like this happens, there’ll be no sympathy at all from the public or from the football clubs, because everyone now knows where they stand.
Despite the testing times ahead, the premiership captain praised the club on its management of the crisis.
“I think the old ‘side by side’ Collingwood values ring true here,” Maxwell said.
“For the boys, they made a big blue. It’s one that’s going to be very public and one that they’ve paid for, but they’ve got another opportunity to live their AFL life.”