REBOUNDING ROO- AAP
By any measure, Aaron Edwards's journey through AFL ranks is
an extraordinary tale.
Samoan-born, Frankston-raised, rookie-list survivor, dumped
Eagle, history-making VFL star and now Kangaroos full-forward.
Add unwitting participant in West Coast's summer of strife
through police recordings only now dredged up, but more of
It has been an incredible ride for Edwards, still only 23 and
willing to concede he has done a lot of growing up in a short
space of time.
Not only is he the first Samoan-born player to play an AFL
game, but Edwards has come back from football's version of the
Dumped rookies just don't get a second chance in the game via
the VFL, let alone little-known four-game forwards considered
undersized and not worth the trouble.
Yet Edwards - known by most as a curiosity via his 2005
eight-possession, five-mark, three-opponent first-quarter
debut against Richmond - has broken the mould.
After three years on the Eagles' rookie list (2003-05), he
knew his chances of an AFL recall were next to zero, but
rather than chase cash in the bush he was determined for one
last shot at the big time.
A season at Frankston started slowly, but culminated in a
10-match, 70-goal run, with Edwards notching his 100 goals
with his last major of his year.
By the time he had become the only player in the VFL's
129-year history to win the best-and-fairest and goalkicking
award in the same year, he had done enough to impress a
Kangaroos hierarchy that needed to replace Leigh Harding and
Sav Rocca's output.
Last week he played the best of his three games for the Roos
with his relentless leading and chasing.
"Obviously I took the long road, which is not ideal," Edwards
"If I could do it all again I would take it a bit more
seriously in the first few years, but at least I have got
another chance and I have got a different head on my shoulders
than I did at West Coast.
"It's going to help me, and I am working on making a career
here and not just playing out my year to say I have played AFL
"I got drafted and moved away and thought, 'How good is this?'
That attitude didn't help me, but now I am a lot more mature."
Aside from one incident, that rebelliousness never got Edwards
in major trouble, but despite solid WAFL form he admits he
coasted at times. But that one indiscretion would return to
haunt him when police phone-taps were released showing Daniel
Kerr and Edwards talking about drugs with convicted drug
dealer Shane Waters.
It came the week before the AFL season kicked off, and the
timing could not have been worse.
"It was four years ago and it was something in the past. You
never expect it to pop up," he said.
"I had finished training on a Friday evening and then got the
phone call from (football manager) Donald McDonald and I was
just thinking, 'What is going on?' I didn't actually know what
he was talking about at the start because if you ever got
taped on a phone call you wouldn't know you were taped anyway.
So it took two phone calls for me to have a conversation where
we both made sense.
"So we got through about four phone calls that night talking
with the club, and I went away for the weekend and got away
from it all.
"Then I played a VFL game that week and played seniors since,
and everything has been great.
"You start at a new club and they might not know what you are
like and you are trying to start off with a clean slate and
then that pops up.
"You have got guys who you have done a pre-season with, but
you don't know them that well and you don't want them to judge
you on something that happened four years ago, so it made it
"But the guys were great and so were the club."
Edwards - one of those likeable, slightly cheeky,
full-of-beans kids - recently bought a Southbank apartment and
is determined to find a niche in the AFL.
Thrust to prominence after Nathan Thompson's season-ending
knee injury, he is aware there are more chances, but more
He is rotating through full-forward with Corey Jones, David
Hale and Leigh Brown.
"I am only on a one-year (contract) so I have pretty much got
to do something or I am in trouble. I have played the last
three games and missed Round 1, so I need to not just hold on
to my spot, but do better than holding on to it," he said.
"I want to be a regular player, not just someone who has done
enough to play again this week.
"I want to be regularly in the seniors, and hopefully I am
taking a few steps toward that."
Born to a Samoan mother and white New Zealand father with red
hair, which Edwards jokes he is lucky to have avoided, he is
growing increasingly aware of his roots.
Last year he added tribal tattoos on his left forearm and
right tricep, and he plans to return to Samoa for the first
"I got the tattoo after I was delisted and I thought there
wasn't much chance of playing again," he said.