First Game Back A Big Tick For O’Donnell

Our Development team’s 158-point win against the Werribee Tigers on Sunday marked Mitch O’Donnell’s first game of AFL football in almost 12 months.

After rupturing his ACL in Round 21 last season, O’Donnell has had to endure many tough months of recovery and rehabilitation, something he says he cannot have achieved without the help of the other Box Hill players.

“There’s kind of a core group of boys that really helped me – Gordo (Tom Gordon), Marc (Lock), Patty (Lawlor), Jake (Summers) and Evo (Nick Evans) – they’re probably the closest guys that really helped me through it all.”

“But really all the boys have been great. At training during the week they did a big announcement that I would be playing my first game and I got a lot of messages of support from everyone – the Development boys, the Senior boys, even the Hawks boys – it’s just been really good.”

In his first game back, it was almost as if O’Donnell had been playing all season. Ending the game with 25 disposals, four tackles, seven clearances and a goal, O’Donnell was one of the best players to take the field on Sunday.

“For me, it wasn’t really about the possessions or anything like that, it was more about getting through the game unscathed. It was good to get those disposals but I’ve never really been one to worry about numbers. If I can just do the team thing then it’s been a good game.”

“I felt really good being back out there. I think I feel better now than I usually do after a game! It was just good to be back out there with the boys playing and being able to get a good win.”

Although making a successful return to the field on Sunday, it hasn’t always been easy for O’Donnell who says there were some particularly hard moments during the early weeks of his injury.

“I think the hardest thing in the time since I did my knee was watching the boys lose the Grand Final not long after I did it. For the team to go through finals and miss playing with my mates was probably one of the hardest things.”

“Post-surgery was also hard. The two weeks afterwards were probably the two hardest weeks of my life.”

“But from the moment I did my knee I knew I just wanted to be around the boys. There was no point sitting at home and feeling sorry for myself. I just wanted to get around my mates and I knew they would help me pull through it as well.”

Mitch O’Donnell and the Box Hill Hawks will be taking on Sandringham this week at Trevor Barker Oval from 11am.



Photo: Jenny Owens Photography

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