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Caps vow to put Jackson first

The Canberra Capitals will make Lauren Jackson's longevity their No.1 priority and aim to have a ''bulletproof'' superstar return to the court next month.

But while Canberra has decided not to pressure Jackson into a rushed return from injury, the seven-time Women's National Basketball League champions are privately fuming that overseas clubs put success before player welfare.

Jackson's non-stop international schedule has left her battered and bruised with hip and hamstring injuries the biggest concerns.

The Capitals and Jackson are aiming for a WNBL comeback in the clash with the Sydney Uni Flames on November 2.

Canberra will foot the bill to help Jackson overcome injuries that haven't been helped by playing under duress in Europe and the US.

The star centre will have intense rehabilitation at the Australian Institute of Sport with Capitals doctor David Hughes and will miss at least two more WNBL matches.


Basketball ACT chief executive Tony Jackson makes no apologies for wrapping her in cotton wool to ensure she sees out her deal.

''Our attitude's a bit different in Australia, we understand our athletes,'' he said. ''It's the Aussie way - we will sacrifice a bit of our own personal rewards or accolades for the betterment of the team.

''This is a thoroughbred that has gone back-to-back-to-back for the better part of since Beijing … We as a country have very limited world-class top performing athletes and we know how to nurture that person, look after them and protect them for the longevity of their careers.''

Jackson returned to Canberra last week after she played through the pain barrier for the Seattle Storm in the Women's National Basketball Association play-offs.

She spoke to the media yesterday, exhausted after long stints in Europe and the US and an Olympic campaign with the Opals.

Jackson will play three of the next four seasons with the Capitals on a $1 million third-party contract.

Her recovery time was significantly impacted by a WNBA season that was heavily back-ended due to the London Olympics.

Tony Jackson dismissed his namesake's niggles as a one-off after a busier-than-normal program.

''I don't think this will be repeated because the WNBA season is normally done by August, so she'll have a month to rest and settle in,'' he said. ''After the Olympics, she played something like 20 games in six weeks for Seattle. In future years, that won't be the case because [there] won't be an Olympics.''

While frustrated, the prognosis is reassuring for Jackson, who initially feared she could be set for a lengthy lay-off after playing busted for Seattle in the WNBA play-offs.

''The way I was feeling [after the play-offs], it was pretty bad,'' she said. ''When I finished the WNBA season, I couldn't even walk without limping but I'm coming along very well and I have faith in the AIS people that they're going to get me, hopefully, close to pain-free.

She hinted she may adopt a light schedule next season and bypass playing in Europe after a one-year stint in Spain this year.

Jackson's contract stipulates she will sit out next year's WNBL season before returning to Canberra for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

''I'm not sure I'll hit Europe again,'' she said.

''It's going to be pretty full on, in terms of the rehab, but being in Canberra and around people I trust makes a huge difference.

''I signed here knowing I had the resources at the AIS here to help me prolong my career a little bit.''

Capitals coach Carrie Graf urged Jackson to take her time to ensure she can play at her peak when she returns.

''It's about the long term, making sure we get her bulletproof again and her body fully fit,'' she said.