EXPERIENCED livewire David Rodan has announced his retirement after he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury for the third time.
The 29 year-old – he turns 30 in October – made the decision to end his career, despite a season to run on a two year contract, which he signed when he joined the club last October.
Rodan suffered the knee injury against the Adelaide Crows at AAMI Stadium in round 22, after starting promisingly in the match. It was his ninth match for Melbourne, and his first since round 15 against the Sydney Swans.
General manager of football operations Josh Mahoney said it was an unfortunate way for Rodan to finish his career.
“It’s a disappointing way for David to end his career, but to play for 11 seasons and to overcome the disappointments he’s had to overcome with injury, shows what a great character he is,” he told melbournefc.com.au.
“We wish him all the best for his future.”
But Mahoney praised Rodan’s career and said he was delighted to have both played with him and worked with him in an off-field role.
“I’ve been fortunate to have been involved with David as a teammate at Port Adelaide in 2007, and in my current role,” he said.
“I can remember him coming to trial for a spot on Port Adelaide’s list and, in a training session, we were playing rugby games and he exploded with his quick feet and his ability to get out of traffic. He forced Port Adelaide’s hand to draft him. To then be able to play six seasons at Port Adelaide was a terrific effort.
“What he has shown throughout his career is his ability to win the ball in close, in stoppages and run and evade. We saw that right up until the end, the way he performed in the first quarter against Adelaide last week.”
Mahoney also acknowledged Rodan’s off-field contribution with the game.
“David has also shown his passion for growing the game of AFL in Fiji, and in the role he has as multicultural ambassador with the AFL,” he said.
“I’m sure that’ll create a lot of opportunities for him post his playing AFL career.”
The midfielder/forward played 185 AFL matches, including 65 with Richmond from 2002-06 and 111 with Port Adelaide from 2007-12.
Born in Fiji to a Fijian mother and a father of Tongan decent, Rodan moved to Australia at three years old.
Originally from Oak Park, Rodan played with the Calder Cannons, where he won two Morrish Medals – the Brownlow Medal equivalent in the TAC Cup – in 2000-01.
He was then drafted at No. 33 in the 2001 AFL Draft by Richmond and made his AFL debut in round one, 2002 against Collingwood. From there, he played 47 matches straight, before missing his first game. He also gained a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination in 2002, and was nominated for goal of the year three times.
In 2005, he missed the entire season with his first knee reconstruction. He injured his right knee in the last five minutes of a practice match against Essendon in Morwell.
He returned to play five matches for the Tigers in 2006, but was delisted at the end of the season.
Rodan then gained a lifeline when the Power selected him at No. 86 in the 2006 NAB AFL Draft, and by the end of the 2007 season, he had played all 25 matches for the year, including Port Adelaide’s Grand Final, which it lost by a record 119 points to Geelong.
Still, his ability to bounce back and play every match in 2007 was a credit to him. It was arguably his best AFL season, as he notched up 401 disposals and kicked 28 goals. He also finished sixth in Port Adelaide’s best and fairest and won the club’s most improved player award.
In 2008, Rodan represented Australia against Ireland in the International Rules series.
Rodan ruptured his left anterior cruciate ligament at training in December 2009, and was set to miss the upcoming season. But he underwent LARS surgery and remarkably resumed against Geelong in round four, 2010.
He had further issues with his left knee before Christmas 2010 and underwent a second bout of LARS surgery.
Still, from 2007-10, Rodan played 85 of a possible 91 matches.
He bounced back to play in round one against Collingwood in 2011, but he again suffered another knee injury – this time to his right knee, which he originally hurt when playing for Richmond.
Rodan missed six matches, but returned to finish with 16 matches for the season.
However, after 10 matches in 2012, Rodan was traded at the end of the season to the Demons for pick No. 87.
Despite playing just the one season in the red and blue, Rodan played some good matches and helped to mentor some of the younger players and midfielders, including Jack Viney.
A much admired player, given his lack of height and his ability to fight back from some career threatening injuries, Rodan gave his absolute all to the end.
To finish with almost 200 matches – he has reached the double ton in official matches, including pre-season and representative games – is an outstanding effort.