Eric Mackenzie needs to bite the bullet, forget his ego and improve, says Glen Jakovich. Photo: Paul KaneAFL great Glen Jakovich has urged out-of-favour West Coast defender Eric Mackenzie to abort any prospects of getting a trade from the Eagles to rebuild his stalled AFL career.
Nanjing Night Net

Mackenzie has struggled to cement a spot in the Eagles backline and has been earmarked for a possible trade.

The 2014 club champion shapes as a key component in a possible swap to staunch rival Fremantle in a controversial trade for disgruntled Dockers forward Hayden Ballantyne.

Ballantyne, 29, has advised Dockers management he wants to be traded and has named West Coast as his preferred club.

A straight swap could be contemplated, as Mackenzie would add crucial experience to emerging young Dockers defenders Alex Pearce and Sam Collins.

Jakovich wants the 134-game veteran to fight back with improved kicking efficiency and potency after a strategic sprint running program through next summer’s pre-season training.

“He should commit to staying at West Coast to fight his way back into the form and position that he is capable of holding and not looking at trading,” Jakovich said.

Mackenzie, 28, could take up to two years to revive his reliable defensive best. The big full-back suffered a ruptured cruciate ligament in his right knee and missed the entire 2015 season.

Jakovich encouraged Mackenzie to rejuvenate his personal confidence and form at West Coast.

The former defensive superstar endured a painstaking fightback in similar manner to his recovery program when he also suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament at the peak of his decorated career.

Jakovich copped his injury midway through the 1996 season and fought back over two years before winning his fourth club champion award.

Mackenzie was recalled to the Eagles defense for two outings against Melbourne and Collingwood before he was sent back for a second stint at alignment club East Perth this month.

He is unlikely to win a call-up for Friday night’s blockbuster against powerhouse Hawthorn at Domain Stadium.

Mackenzie had a mixed day in a direct match-up with former Fremantle-listed forward Hamish Shepheard, who booted three goals for Subiaco, but the Eagles veteran was a class above the second-tier level with his impressive marking and composed foot disposal.

Mackenzie has traditionally been a lock-down one-on-one defender on key opposition power forwards but also needs to significantly improve his kicking efficiency, according to Jakovich.

“His mindset and confidence are probably weighing heavily on him emotionally and he needs to rebuild all of that,” he said.

“Eric needs to spend a whole pre-season on improving his sprinting and agility, which he will.

“But he’s also got to get his kicking going better to suit the Eagles style and how the game has changed with quick rebound from defensive areas while he’s been out with his injury.

“The opposition know to put this guy under pressure because he can turn the ball over.

“He needs to be competent at 30 metre passing to get out of trouble as part of his way back into the Eagles defence.”

Jakovich says a more familiar environment at West Coast will better suit Mackenzie’s recovery.

“He’s better to do that at West Coast,” he said. “He has to take his medicine from an emotional and ego point of view and just work diligently over the summer to rebuild his career.

“It can take two to three years for a big bloke like him to completely recover from the serious injury that he had.

“It took me at least a couple of years to have the same sort confidence and mobility back into my game and the confidence to take on the big opponents and have the confidence in your ability to get the footy, distribute it off and benefit the team.”  Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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