Gauntlet of honour: An injury-free Gary Rohan at Swans training on Friday. Photo: Anthony JohnsonThree years after making his AFL debut Gary Rohan feels like he is about to play his first game again.
The 22-year-old has been given the all-clear to make his playing comeback in the curtain-raiser to the Sydney derby on Sunday, almost 15 months after suffering a horrific broken leg. It’s still too early for the Swans to consider giving Rohan a fairytale return in the seniors but the fact he is back on the field is itself a cause for celebration.
He went through a period in February where he needed a fortnight just to recover from a training session. He was still sporting a limp as recently as April, though he said that was more out of habit than pain.
But he has made big strides in recent weeks. Before one session, in a sight that would have brought joy to many Swans fans, Rohan unloaded 60-metre drop punts at goal, which suggests he has not lost penetration in his kicking. There has been no noticeable difference either in his pace, which was one of his big weapons before his injury.
Rohan will play a quarter on Sunday morning, against Greater Western Sydney’s reserves side, and he cannot wait to be back.
”I’m having sleepless nights just thinking about it,” he said.
”It’s a buzz. I can’t wait to run up the race and get the first touch out of the way. I need to get the first massive tackle and I’ll be right.”
Rohan’s courageous fightback has inspired the club. Unbeknown to him, the complete Swans list formed a guard of honour at the top of the race to welcome Rohan on to the field for training on Friday. Each player ruffled his hair or slapped him on the back as he ran through the friendly gauntlet.
”I heard all the boys were clapping and I looked up the race and ran through, it got me up for training,” Rohan said.
”It [their support] means a lot. They care, they’re not just worried about their game or their career, they’re worried about a young player, like myself, getting back.”
Rohan thanked Rhyce Shaw for his support, describing his mentor as ”one of the greatest leaders at the club”. Fans wanting to catch a glimpse of Rohan in action are advised to get to the SCG in time for the 9.30am start.
”He won’t play a long time but he’ll get a taste of it,” Swans coach John Longmire said.
”We don’t care if he doesn’t touch the ball. We just want him to get out there, cross the white line and run around with a big grin on his face, which I’m sure he’ll have.
”He’s a ripping bloke. He’s a great kid around the footy club and everyone loves him. He’s a really popular figure among the players.
”They’d be as thrilled to see him play 20 or 30 minutes of reserves as anyone – just to see him out there running around and enjoying his teammates’ company.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.