Pain of 2006 drives McLeod to AFL finals - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Pain of 2006 drives McLeod to AFL finals

By Daniel Brettig 06/08/2008 06:21:30 PM Comments (0)

It took almost 300 AFL games for Adelaide's Andrew McLeod to realise the best way to prolong his career was to stop it - temporarily.

As he prepared for his 300th appearance against Richmond this week, McLeod said the painful events of 2006 drove him to surgery in the middle of this season.

Two years ago he delayed an operation to remove a bursa in his left foot until round 16 but a rushed return on the eve of the finals led to a serious infection and further surgery.

McLeod's absence coincided with Adelaide's loss of form and direction in the lead-up to the finals.

When he returned for a home preliminary final against West Coast, his inability to run out the second half was a microcosm of an Adelaide side sprinted off their feet by Ben Cousins and company.

This time when McLeod's battered right knee began to play up, he booked in for cleanout surgery following the round 13 loss to Brisbane, and after an iffy comeback game against Port Adelaide in round 16, he now looks ripe for a significant September.

"Yeah, (2006) had a lot to do with it," he said.

"I've been lucky over my career with my recuperative powers but it was one thing we wanted to make sure with the knee that it was more about longevity than anything.

"We didn't want to put any extra strain or pressure on it.

"For me it was making sure my leg was right. You don't want to be going out with that hanging over your head - that your body's not right.

"(In 2006) it wasn't much fun spending a week in hospital with golden staph."

McLeod's milestone is something of a medical miracle.

A battered right knee all but gave out as early as 1998 - he famously dominated the preliminary and grand finals of that year while essentially playing on one leg.

After Adelaide's most recent win over Carlton, McLeod was spotted with a hefty bandage around the knee, something he described as a "security blanket" after years of management.

"There has always been the concern (about the knee), but I've been able to manage it really well through the footy club, the doctors, physios and fitness staff, so I've been lucky," McLeod said.

"At some points, it causes you a fair bit of grief, but you're able to push through.

"There was a part there where I struggled a fair bit and you go through periods where you wonder whether or not its worth putting your body through that much pain, but at the end of the day, we've been able to manage it well.

"It's a credit to the footy club that I've been able to give them a bit more service than I really thought I could've."

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