Three 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 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 to the seniors but the fact that he is back on the field is a cause for celebration.
He went through a period in February when 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 through pain.
But he has taken 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 any penetration in his kicking.
There has been no noticeable difference either in his pace, which was one of his major weapons before the injury.
Rohan will play a quarter on Sunday morning, against Greater Western Sydney’s reserves side, and he can’t wait to be back.
”I’m having sleepless nights just thinking about it, it’s a buzz,” Rohan said.
”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 entire club. Unbeknown to him in the change room, the entire Swans list had formed a guard of honour at the top of the race to welcome Rohan onto the field for training on Friday.
Each player ruffled his hair or slapped him on the back as he ran through.
”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 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 9.30 start.
”He won’t play a long time but he’ll get a taste of it,” said Swans coach John Longmire.
”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,” Longmire said.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.