Selection relief for injured Leary

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Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser

Albany guard Matt Leary has spoken of his relief at being selected in the WA Country under-18 side for a second straight year after he thought a shattered eye socket had all but ended his hopes of going to the 2017 Helloworld Under-18 Junior Championships.

Leary represented WA Country at the under-18 national titles last year as a bottom-age player and appeared set to be selected again until a freak accident on New Year’s Eve rocked the 17-year-old’s hopes.

Playing with his mates on a trampoline, Leary copped a stray elbow to the face, leaving him with a blowout fracture of his left eye socket that required surgery.

The emerging talent had surgery to repair the injury on January 13 which left Leary wondering if his chances of going to the national tournament were gone.

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However, Basketball WA announced its final 10-man squad last week, which included a recovering Leary.

“After the CT scan said there was nothing in my face I was a bit doubtful,” Leary said.

“I got a lot of support but it felt as though I was definitely doubtful about getting picked.

“Waiting for that (announcement) email was more stressful than actually dealing with the injury, but it’s good to get selected again.”

WA Country will contest the championships in Townsville, Queensland, from April 8-15 and Leary is excited about taking on a more senior role in the team.

“I go into this year a bit more confident, knowing what the 18s is like,” he said.

“I think the coaches have more of a leadership and scoring role set out for me.

“I was more defensive last year but, with me being one of the older players a bit more freedom and being one of the leaders will be good.”

The Year 12 Great Southern Grammar student is aiming to return at the end of this month and play locally in the Albany Basketball Association finals to complete his injury comeback ahead of the major national event.

Fellow Albany player Keanu Weeden was selected as one of four reserves for the WA Country men’s side after impressing in trials and practice games.

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