Lauren Jackson says she still wants to lead the Capitals to another title. Photo: Colleen Petch
Lauren Jackson says she can recapture the best form of her basketball career when she returns to the court, and is determined to lead the Canberra Capitals to another WNBL title in her comeback.
But the star wants to take a cautious approach to her recovery from hamstring surgery and conceded, ''I don't want to let anyone down'' when fit to play.
An upbeat Jackson spoke to The Canberra Times on Friday about her future with the Capitals, the relief she feels after surgery, her plans to continue playing for at least three years and her hunger to get back to the top.
In a major boost to the Capitals, Jackson said she would consider playing for the seven-time champions next season as part of a five-year deal to play three seasons in Canberra.
For the next two months, she will ease her way through a rehabilitation program after surgeons fixed a hamstring problem which troubled her for eight months.
Jackson was due to start the first season of her record deal - which continues until 2015-16 - with the Capitals in October last year.
But her chronic injury rendered her helpless as the Capitals endure one of the toughest seasons in a decade.
Now 31, Jackson said she needed to lighten her workload and that could mean a previously unscheduled season with the Capitals in 2013-14.
''It's been a bugger and it's been frustrating, but I want to comeback and help Canberra win a championship,'' Jackson said.
''There's nowhere else I would rather be playing in the world … but injuries happen in sport.
''Canberra and Seattle got the short end of the stick here. But you can't blame anyone because no one could figure out what [the injury] was.
''Absolutely there's an option for me to [play next season], but I'm not willing to make any decisions until I know what's right for me.''
Jackson arrived back in the capital on Friday night to be court-side for the team's clash with Dandenong at the AIS Arena on Saturday night.
The veteran believes she can get back to the form which made her one of the most sought-after players in women's basketball.
Jackson feared she would not be able to continue her career when constant pain plagued her on and off the court.
But successful surgery has Jackson looking to the future and she wants to continue until she's 35 before reassessing.
The WNBA's, and WNBL's, most valuable player is, ''aware I'll have to cut back on my load'', but said she would not make that decision until she starts training again.
''I'm not going to rush back, I'm not putting any pressure on myself to come back early … I just want to make sure I'm pain free,'' Jackson said. ''Some of the greatest players have played until 37-years old and, my body willing, I really do think I can do that.
''It's just a matter of if I take care of my body for the first time in my life … this has made me stronger but I also realise I'm not invincible.''
Jackson's career has been riddled with injuries, but she has maintained her standing as one of the best players in the world for a decade.
But she said the past year had been the toughest, battling debilitating pain on and off the court.
''I don't want to let anyone down again, I hate it and it's a horrible feeling - I want to be there with my teammates,'' Jackson said.
''I don't think I've played good basketball for a long time now and, because of the injury and the pain, I think my confidence was shot.
''I needed to get it fixed or I would never be myself again. Now that I've got it fixed, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and, for me, I feel a lot of relief. I do feel like I can get back to what I consider as myself.''