COBDEN export Gary Rohan handles questions as smoothly as he covers ground in the Sydney Swans’ forward line.
But he pauses briefly when asked what he’s more pleased with — signing a new three-year deal with the Swans or being fully fit entering an AFL season for the first time since 2012.
“Probably both,” he said.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had a full pre-season. I haven’t been this fit for ages.”
The 22-year-old has every reason to be excited about his fitness. He seemed set to cement a spot in the Swans’ best 22 at the start of 2012 but in round four he suffered an horrific broken leg in a match against North Melbourne at the SCG.
He missed the rest of 2012 and managed to play five senior games at the end of last season while far from fit. He still suffers pain when he is knocked on his leg but is getting used to it as the pain subsides after about five minutes.
Rohan told The Standard this week he had feared his career could have been over as he struggled to overcome the injury.
“Early on I did when things weren’t going my way with my recovery,” he said.
“I didn’t think I would play at all last year.”
Rohan has played 27 games in four years and his lack of appearances had him worried coming out of contract at the end of this season.
“I wasn’t sure if they were confident with me and my leg to come back, be fit and play.
“I’m glad they gave me a deal early and I don’t have to worry about that now.”
Rohan said he had adjusted to living in Sydney.
“I did think about it (coming back to Victoria) but then I just thought ‘it’s my fifth year up here and we’ve got some exciting young players coming through like Toby Nankervis, Harry Cunningham and Tommy Mitchell’ and that’s why I stayed.”
In an era of unprecedented player movement, the pacy half-forward/midfielder revealed he wanted to remain a one-club player.
“I always said if I got to a club I would rather stay at the one club until I retire.”
Rohan said he just wanted to focus on continuing to build his fitness and fulfil his talent.
“The longer I’m out there, the better I’m going to get. I will get fitter. I haven’t played my best footy yet.”
He said he was enjoying being part of the Swans’ build-up to the season but he knows he has to prove himself.
Rohan has made no secret he feels he owes the Swans for sticking by him and giving him security of another three years.
“We’ve got some good young boys coming and if someone is not playing well, you are going to get dropped and you have to fight to get back in. It keeps the boys on their toes and it’s exciting.”
Rohan is one of four Cobden players at AFL clubs this year along with his great mates Ben Cunnington (North Melbourne), Jackson and Zach Merrett (Essendon).
While they have their own team commitments, they stay in touch.
“Now and then we send each other a message.”
Rohan is unsure what has made Cobden such a strong breeding ground for players at the elite level but predicts they won’t be the last.
“It’s been really good for the club and there are a heap more good ones coming through who have been playing some good footy.
“When we have a bye I try and get home.”