Sydney Swans forward Gary Rohan will bring up an emotional milestone on Saturday night at the SCG against North Melbourne, when he plays his 100th career game.
It has been a long journey to three figures for Gary Rohan, who has battled adversity and injury almost every year since 2012.
Rohan, in his ninth season with the Swans, after being taken with pick six at the 2009 NAB AFL Draft has battled a host of injuries troubles in that time.
The most significant setback was a horrific leg break suffered in round four, 2012, coincidentally in a match against the North Melbourne Kangaroos at the SCG, when forward Lindsay Thomas slid across the ground into his leg.
It was the type of tackle that has been stamped out in European Football, after a spate of serious and career-ending injuries.
Rohan missed the better part of two seasons before returning to the Sydney team, making his return to the side against St Kilda in round 21, 2013, as a substitute.
Rohan’s emotional return capped off a superb 10-goal win against St Kilda, receiving a rapturous reception from the home crowd when he ran on as a substitute for Kurt Tippett late in the third quarter.
He played the remaining six games of the season, including all three finals, but was restricted by fitness and pain issues, kicking five goals, all in the finals.
With new recruit Lance Franklin joining a formidable forward line including Kurt Tippett, Sam Reid, Adam Goodes and Lewis Jetta, Rohan found his opportunities limited.
Loss of form and fitness, coupled with injury issues and on-going leg pain restricted Rohan to 16 games in 2014.
A change of position to the backline appeared to make an immediate impact on the players’ confidence, his best game in his fledgling career coming against the Kangaroos in the 2014 preliminary final, shutting down Brent Harvey and Lindsay Thomas.
A return to the forward line was forecasted ahead of the 2015 season, but he still spent time in the forward and backlines, before missing six senior games late in the season.
Back and hamstring issues have restricted Gary in the last several seasons, placed on the long-term injury lists in both 2016 and 2017, missing the first eight games of 2016 and four in 2017.
Rohan was one of the Swans’ stand-out performers in their 2016 finals series, but a mid-air clash with an Adelaide opponent in the Swans’ semi-final win, brought flashbacks of his leg injury.
“To be honest, I s--- myself,” Rohan told The Daily Telegraph.
“I thought I was down. I didn’t want to land on it because as soon as the impact got me, I knew.
“It kind of shocked me the whole way down my leg. I kind of just freaked out a bit from the broken leg. I just freaked out.
“Every now and then I’ll feel (the titanium shaft). If you hit me on the right spot you’ll make me feel it. That one was on the right spot.
“I’m just glad everything is all good.”
Most recently it’s been an extremely tough few months in his personal life, and the footy world rallied around Rohan and his wife Amie, after the couple’s twin girls were born last month, but sadly one of them past away from a medical condition.
Bella Rae is growing stronger every day, but Willow Neveah, who had tragically been diagnosed with anencephaly – a fatal condition that prevents the formation of a baby’s brain and skull – tragically passed away hours after her birth.
Rohan is an extremely popular clubman at the Sydney Swans and his teammates will no doubt be inspired by his milestone match against the Kangaroos on Saturday night.
He was mobbed by all seventeen of his team mates on the field after kicking a goal against Adelaide in his first match back after losing Willow.
Gary and Amie took to social media in November last year, to encourage anyone in a similar situation to reach out.
“We would love for anyone who has been affected by anencephaly themselves, or know of others affected by anencephaly to please contact us,” he wrote on Instagram.
“Don't be afraid to talk to us about it. That's what we want, we want people to ask questions, we want to talk about it with others.
“We still need questions answered as much as everyone else.
“And at the end of the day, we will always be parents to twins, our journey has just been written a little differently to others.”
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