What Does Matt Rowell’s Injury Mean for the Gold Coast Suns?

Before the 2021 AFL season began, fantasy football fans would have been excited by Matt Rowell’s return from a shoulder injury. Following his breakthrough campaign in 2020, the 19-year-old was arguably the hottest property in the sport. However, several unfortunate injuries have prevented Rowell from showcasing his talent on a regular basis. The midfielder has recently suffered another setback, which will likely keep him on the sidelines for a considerable amount of time. So, what does the injury means for Rowell’s progression and the Gold Coast Suns? 

Progress Hampered by Injuries 

In July 2020, Rowell suffered a shoulder injury in the Sun’s round-five defeat to Geelong. Following the issue, the 19-year-old opted for surgery to repair the damage, and this left the 2020 AFL Rising Star nominee unable to compete for three months. The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for Rowell, who had put in two best-on-ground performances in the season’s opening rounds. His impressive start saw pundits predict that he’d already earned a place in the Sun’ all-time greatest side, which speaks volumes about his talent.   

Rowell returned from his season-ending shoulder injury in time for the opening match of the 2021 campaign. However, his luck failed to change. During the Gold Coast’s defeat to West Coast, he suffered a minor tear to his posterior cruciate ligament. Now, the 19-year-old looks set to miss the first half of the AFL season. 

Gold Coast anticipates that Rowell won’t be available for between ten and twelve weeks. In English Premier League football, Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara suffered a similar knee injury in October 2020, in which some believe he damaged his PCL. In total, the Spaniard was out for around ten weeks. He is now fit and back in a Liverpool side who are 6/1 in football betting to win the Champions League in 2020-21, as of March 31st. Suns supporters may take solace in this as they await Rowell’s return. 

The Potential to Become an All-Time Great 

As touched on above, coaches, fans, and pundits alike have high expectations for Rowell. The 19-year-old was the number-one pick in the 2019 Draft, and he’s since received comparisons to Chris Judd, a two-time Brownlow Medal winner. Much like Rowell, the former West Coast and Carlton midfielder was an AFL Rising Star nominee back in 2002. Across his career, the six-foot-two competitor won the Grand Final in 2006 and claimed the AFL Premiership player award. 

It’s no secret that Judd was one of the best players of the modern era, with his individual and collective achievements showcasing that. As such, it speaks volumes that Rowell is receiving such high-profile comparisons despite having five AFL appearances to his name. Many believe that the 19-year-old can surpass Judd’s legacy. According to ESPN, in Rowell’s first four games, he polled nine Brownlow votes. It took Judd 39 games to achieve such a feat. 

Needing to Stay Fit and Kick On 

Few can argue that Rowell doesn’t have the talent to be the star of his era. However, that status will only come with consistency and longevity. If the 19-year-old can recover from his injuries and enjoy a problem-free run of matches, he can undoubtedly cement a Judd-like legacy over the coming years.

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