For an AFL player, injuries come with the territory.
But it was away from the football field as an unsuspecting Jarryd Lyons slept that the Crows midfielder suffered the most bizarre, painful and potentially serious ailment of his career.
Just over a week into pre-season training in November, Lyons’ right leg became swollen and sore.
On the advice of Club medical staff, the 22-year-old sat out training to see if the swelling would subside, but it worsened to the point that his ankle joint had nearly doubled in size. Within a few days, Lyons was admitted to hospital where he remained for over a week.
Club and hospital doctors said his symptoms were consistent with a white-tailed spider bite.
“From what I can gather, I think I was bitten when I was home in bed asleep on the Wednesday night,” Lyons said.
“I can’t be 100 per cent sure because I didn’t see it. It felt a bit like a mozzie bite, so I didn’t think much of it but it just kept getting worse.
“On Thursday, my calf started to get sore and swollen, so I didn’t train on the Friday. On Sunday, my leg had gotten even bigger and all my lymph nodes were blown up.
“By Monday afternoon, I was in the emergency department.”
Lyons spent eight days in hospital, where he was administered antibiotics intravenously.
The unlucky Crow had developed a skin infection and the bite, which often heals unassisted, was now a gruesome open wound.
“It’s not necessarily the bite that does the damage. It’s what comes afterwards in terms of infection and that sort of stuff. It wasn’t pretty. There are a few photos that you probably don’t want to see!” Lyons said.
After being released from hospital, Lyons spent another few weeks recuperating.
Lyons still has a bruise-like mark on his calf as a reminder, but has otherwise fully recovered.
He trained a bit more over the Christmas break than most of his teammates to make up ground, and is now focused on completing every session before the first NAB Challenge game.
“It certainly wasn’t the ideal start to pre-season when I’d come in fit and firing,” he said.
“Fortunately, it’s behind me now and I haven’t had any lasting effects. I’m probably fortunate that we have an extra two or three weeks this pre-season compared to previous years. I’ve got plenty of time to catch up and get enough work in.
“It’s been great being back on the track with the group. The boys are training really well. It’s been tough, but we’re all pushing each other and working together to get through it.”
Like many of his teammates, Lyons will be eager to impress new coach Phil Walsh in Adelaide’s NAB Challenge campaign, which begins against North Melbourne in Port Lincoln on Sunday, March 1.
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“I’m no different to a lot of other guys here at the Club. I want to play my role in the side and achieve success as a team. With a new coach, everyone starts on a level playing field,” Lyons said.
“The guys are burning up the track, so it’s going to be hard to get a spot but I’m just looking to play regular footy and contribute to the team.”
Recruited with pick No.61 in the 2010 AFL National Draft, Lyons has played 22 games in four seasons with the Crows, including a personal-best 10 in 2014.
The inside ball winner was the subject of trade talk in the previous two years, but reaffirmed his commitment to the Club by signing a two-year deal in October.
“I always knew I wanted to stay. I love the footy club and was thankful to get another two years,” he said.
“I met with ‘Walshy’ soon after he was appointed. We had a quick chat to see where he was at. Walshy didn’t give too much away, but he said that with a good pre-season under my belt he could see me going places. You’re always a bit uncertain with a new coach, so it was good to hear.
“I was happy with Walshy’s vision for the Club, and with where the Club is heading.”