The Geelong captain Joel Selwood has been ruled out for the remainder of the AFL home and away season as he will have surgery on the left ankle he injured on Friday night. Scans confirmed that Selwood suffered a syndesmosis injury in Friday night's 46-point loss to Sydney, and opted for surgery after the club consulted with specialists over the weekend.
Where the most damage most likely occurred however, was in a second incident where Selwood then twisted the same ankle late in the third term as his leg got caught under a Buddy Franklin tackle – this time twisting inwards – which left him hobbling at three-quarter time, and ultimately was kept off the field for the most of the final quarter.
So what is a syndesmosis injury and why does Joel Selwood require surgery?
The most common way the syndesmosis is injured is in a twisting or rotational force to the ankle, and in football or soccer, it commonly occurs when the foot is planted or trapped and the rest of the body or leg is twisted – no surprise here that this is exactly what happens to Selwood in the Buddy Franklin tackle. The ligaments that support the syndesmosis are needed to stabilise it, and it is these ligaments that are stretched or torn when this type of injury occurs. Other factors that can contribute to a syndesmosis injury are previous rolled ankles (maybe that ankle injury from earlier in the match played a role?) or when the ankle is broken.
Why does Joel require surgery (potentially)?
We weren’t fortunate enough to have a look at Joel’s scans or assess him in the rooms on Friday night, so we can not be 100% certain what the reason for surgery is, however here is the main concern with this type of injury, and the potential reason why Joel and Geelong have opted for surgery as his management.
So where to from here?
Normally, a cast or splint may be used post surgery and rehabilitation and return to sport may take 8-12 weeks. Despite having to undergo surgery in the coming days, Geelong says it’s hopeful of seeing Selwood return in the first week of finals, given he will have four weeks to recover due to the post Round 23 bye.
Maybe his injury is not as severe as we have outlined or the surgery chosen will not be this intense and he can begin he recovery straight away? For the good of the game, we hope this is the case - but from Adelaide and Port Adelaide fans perspectives, they are probably hoping he needs a bit of extra time to get over his ankle injury so he doesn’t do any damage to our South Australian teams this September!