COLAC footballer Dylan Hodge has caught the attention of AFL clubs despite being hampered by an ankle injury for the past two years.
Hodge broke an ankle in June 2012, with bone spurs prolonging his recovery until early this year.
He played this season with Geelong Falcons in the TAC Cup as well as school football with Geelong Grammar, doing enough to receive interest from at least two AFL clubs and earn an invitation to attend AFL state screening this weekend.
But the strongly-built key-position player will not take part in physical testing as he looks to finally put his ankle injury behind him.
“We decided after the last game this year that I’d spend the next two months to get it right for pre-season next year,” Hodge said.
“I initially broke the ankle pretty badly in June 2012 before the footy season, I had sugery in July and over the next 11 months it just didn’t improve,” he said.
“So I had scans done and then more surgery in August 2013 to remove bone spurs from the joint which allowed me to play footy this year but I was fairly underdone, probably about 70 per cent.”
Cricket had been the 18-year-old’s main focus until a year ago, having captained the state at under-15 level before back and ankle injuries took their toll.
But watching the Geelong Cats draft his good mate Darcy Lang late last year, and watching his brother Luke Hodge win a second AFL premiership in 2013 inspired Hodge to turn his attention to football this season.
“It sort of showed that I might be able to reach that level as well,” Hodge said.
“If nothing eventuates hopefully I can still leave the cricket door open,” he said.
“It does get a bit tough juggling both cricket and football, especially the overlap of the two seasons, because both sports are so professional the pre-seasons start early.”
Falcons regional manager Michael Turner said the club had supported Hodge in resting his troublesome ankle, offering him an overage spot with the Falcons next year if he is overlooked by AFL clubs.
“This has been his first real crack at footy and his ankle injury has probably held him back a little but he’s still had interest from AFL clubs,” Turner said.
“He’s still shown that he has plenty of ability,” he said.
Birregurra’s Campbell Floyd will also attend this weekend’s AFL state screening.