Illawarra AFL player Aidan Riley has begun a long recovery after surgery on a leg broken in Saturday night's loss to West Coast in Adelaide.
The hard-headed Crows midfielder was injured while attempting to tackle in the opening minutes of the six-point loss to the Eagles, which ended his season and all but ruined Adelaide's finals hopes.
While Riley was unavailable for comment yesterday, the injury could not have come at a worse time for the region's second ever player to make it to the elite level.
Riley is off contract at the end of the season and was playing just his second game of the year after being overlooked by Crows coach Brenton Sanderson for most of the year.
"It's really disappointing for Aidan," Sanderson said.
"He waited a while for his opportunity and played well after coming into the team last week."
It is understood Riley hopes to secure a contract extension despite the broken leg and resume preseason training to prove he deserves another shot at the AFL.
A former Wollongong Lions and Figtree junior, Riley has played 12 AFL games since 2011.
Arthur Chilcott, with 13 games for the Sydney Swans in 1984 and 1985, was the first elite level Illawarra player.