From and the Greater Dandenong Leader
Reported by Paul Amy
Full article - Click here

 Lawrence Pinder

Alex Woodward in action for Box Hill. Picture: Lawrence Pinder

IT’S a sad fact that in his five seasons at Hawthorn, Alex Woodward suffered more serious knee injuries than he played senior games.

He had two appearances for the Hawks, in 2014, the year he won the VFL’s JJ Liston Trophy with Box Hill Hawks.

What he didn’t have was even a speck of luck.

Three reconstructions of his right knee — in 2012, 2013 and 2015 — impeded his progress as a ball-hunting midfielder.

Woodward returned to play four games with Box Hill this year and was named in the best three times, another comeback completed.

Alex Woodward is stretchered off the field after one of his knee injuries, playing for Box Hill. Picture: Jenny Owens

At season’s end Hawthorn delisted the Noble Park junior. But Woodward, 23, bears no bitterness towards the Hawks.

“I couldn’t speak more highly of the footy club,’’ he said.

“For a player to go down with three knee recos and for them to look after me the way they did, they were outstanding, and I’ll be forever grateful.’’

Having been a part of the AFL “system’’ for five years, Woodward now finds himself on the outside, eager to get back in.

There was speculation a club would claim him at the national and rookie drafts in the past week.

“Disappointed but still driven,’’ he tweeted on Monday after he was overlooked in both pools.

“Yeah, I’ve still got that drive to play in the AFL, I’m still very determined,’’ Woodward told Leader.

“The challenge for me now is to put my name up back up there. It’s something I’m looking forward to. I think there was a little bit of interest in me but I think clubs might have been a bit wary of my body, with my injury history.

nother knee injury, this time in 2013.

It wasn’t all bad for Woodward, winning the VFL JJ Liston trophy in 2014. Picture: AFL Media

“Five years in the AFL for a year-and-a-half return probably isn’t a good look. For me next year it will be about enjoying my footy and trying to get some consistency. I feel when I’m out there that I’m good enough to play at a good standard. I’ve got faith in my body.’’

Woodward added: “It’s a bit ironic that now that my body is good I’m out of the system. In saying that I do in a sense have to prove to clubs that I can stand up to a season of football. That’s my aim for next year.’’

Woodward is assessing offers from VFL, SANFL and WAFL clubs and hopes to settle on one in the next few days.

Alex Woodward (right) celebrates with Bradley Hill after making his AFL debut in 2014. He would play only one more senior game with Hawthorn. Picture: Wayne Ludbey

He said he rated the VFL highly — “I’ve always thought it was a very good standard of football, and I’ve heard a lot of people say the same’’ — and he probably had a preference to stay in Melbourne.

Given the Collingwood VFL team’s need for midfielders (Jack Hellier is sidelined with a knee injury and Ben Moloney has joined Geelong), and given that his ex-Hawthorn teammate Jordan Kelly is with the Pies, it would be no surprise to see Woodward land at the Westpac Centre.

The right-footer was drafted from the Sandringham Dragons in 2011.