“The technology is unbelievable. I was in the operating room and all the different stuff in there was mind-boggling. I was in good hands and with good technology so it was all good.”
At times last year when running Larkey’s heart rate would go through the roof, requiring him to lie down until it went back to normal. He doesn’t think it had a significant effect on his football or running capacity but he admits it’s nice to have dealt with the problem.
“It’s 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,” Larkey said.
He will also have a good sounding board with former North Melbourne player Leigh Adams, who underwent a similar procedure during his career, and is now back at the club as a coach.
Doctors told Larkey they do about 150 similar procedures a year and there was no reason why his football couldn’t continue on an upward trend with the straight-shooter kicking 26.8 in 2019, playing second fiddle to full-forward Ben Brown.
“It was a good foundation for me … I want to build a bit of aggression into my game and just build chemistry with other forwards in the forward line and work in with them,” Larkey said.
Respected commentator Gerard Healy said Larkey could take his game to another level if he increased his fitness to the point where he could run all game. It is a suggestion Larkey has taken on board, agreeing it is one area that could improve his game.
He joked that he hoped fixing the heart would increase his stamina automatically but he knows only hard work will do the trick.
“I still need to work hard to be a better runner. That is what this pre-season is all about,” Larkey said.
“There are plenty of things I still need to work on to improve my game and endurance is one of them.”
Larkey said Rhyce Shaw has made a great start to his coaching career and had returned with a strong program for the players to follow in the pre-season.
“He’s got a great balance between being liked and being respected,” Larkey said.
Peter Ryan is a sports reporter with The Age covering AFL, horse racing and other sports.