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Alex Woodward eyes VFL return

 

Alex Woodward pushes off Essendon's Heath Hocking in a VFL game early last season. Picture: Michael Klein

 LOCAL FOOTY

Luckless former Hawthorn player Alex Woodward on the cusp of a comeback to football

Paul Amy, Greater Dandenong Leader

June 19, 2018 12:00pm

FORMER Hawthorn midfielder Alex Woodward has recovered from his fourth ACL knee injury and is on the verge of a VFL comeback.

Woodward, 25, has been in training with Collingwood and is eyeing a return in Round 13, when the Maggies play Williamstown.

Woodward was the VFL Pies’ major signing for 2017 but he suffered another knee injury in his third game for the club.

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“Today was a tough day,” the VFL’s 2014 JJ Liston Trophy winner posted on his Twitter account at the time.

“The news of needing to go through another knee reconstruction all over again is exhausting in so many ways for me and my loved ones.

“Coming to terms with what has happened will not be easy and quite painful for a while. Sometimes the only way to start again is to accept defeat no matter how difficult that may be.’’

Alex Woodward recovering at home with his dog Koda last year.

He said a return to football wouldn’t be his priority.

Woodward had already endured reconstructions of his right knee in 2012, 2013 and 2015.

But today he said he had been training confidently with the Magpies and was keen to resume playing “the game I love’’.

“I’ve been pretty keen to keep it low-key but I’ve been training, full-training, for about six weeks now, working away on my own and with the VFL team, and I’ve got every ambition of playing footy again,’’ Woodward said.

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“I’m aiming for next week. Hopefully I get selected and there’s a spot for me. I’ve been training pretty well and I’m feeling excited. I’ve made a conscious effort to take my time with this one. It’s approaching the 14-month mark. It’s amazing how in every day life I actually do a fair bit of rehab.’’

Woodward, who played two games in his five years with Hawthorn, has served as the Collingwood AFL runner this year.

Alex Woodward on the burst for the Hawks.

He said the Magpies had been unstinting in their support of him since his injury, just as the Hawks backed him through three knee operations.

“I’ve absolutely loved just being out there on the field,’’ he said.

“Running around the MCG, once upon a time it seemed so far away in any capacity. Although I’m not playing it’s surreal.’’

Woodward, a mortgage broker, said each period of rehabilitation had been different and “a little specific in its own way in how I needed to deal with it’’.

“This one’s been challenging in the sense that I’m not exactly in the AFL system. I don’t necessarily get the resources at hand 24-7. It’s not my job to be an AFL player any more,’’ he said.

“I’ve found quite a good work-life balance. Doing work outside of footy, I find football now to be my release and something I look forward to come the end of the day. That’s exciting when it’s like that and not having the burden of having to do rehab every day. That’s really helped mentally. Like I said before, I’ve taken my time and haven’t put any pressure on myself.

“I remember speaking about it at the end of last year. I really had no thought about playing. But being the runner and being out there with the boys built my passion up again to have another crack at being a footballer, even at VFL level. I just want to have fun again, have no pressure on trying to prove anything. I just want to get back to playing the game I love.’’

Woodward played junior football at Noble Park and was drafted from the Sandringham Dragons after winning their 2011 best and fairest and gaining selection in the TAC Cup team of the year.