Former NZ Senior Captain Andrew Crighton will make his return to the footy field when he debuts for the Western Crows in the 2017 AFL New Zealand Premiership.
Following on from a horrific head injury in 2015, his Australian based career was cut short and there were doubts on whether he would ever return to the football field.
Andrew first started with AFL in New Zealand as a 16 year old playing for the local North Shore Tigers side in Auckland. After developing rapidly, he became one of the Auckland AFL’s star players and was soon representing Auckland at the NPC.
Crighton made his debut for the NZ senior side in 2006 at the Queensland Country Championships and was selected in the 2008 International Cup squad where he was named in the best 22 players in the tournament, and the great honour of the World Team.
At the 2011 International Cup, Crighton took on the captaincy role of the Senior New Zealand team with his uncompromising nature a feature of both his captaincy and his on field performance.
He Captained the NZ senior side from 2012-2013 before making the move to Melbourne where he played for the Balwyn Tigers in Victoria’s Eastern Football League.
His last game playing in the national side came in 2013 against the Australian Under 17 AFL Academy at Westpac Stadium. Playing against current superstars such as Isaac Heeney (Sydney Swans), Nakia Cockatoo (Geelong Cats) and Darcy Moore (Collingwood Magpies), Crighton was named best on Ground in which he produced a phenomenal performance during the game.
In his debut season in Melbourne, Crighton received the clubs best and fairest award and in 2013, he captained the reserve grade side.
During Round 1 in 2015, Andrew came off the bench in the second quarter and with the ball coming his way, bent down to pick up it up in a contest and was involved in a head clash with his team mate. He underwent multiple surgeries and due to the severity of the injury to his face and was told that he may not be able the sport again .
After the injury, Crighton decided to move away from the game and focus on his business career. He now resides in Turangi and is the part owner and manager of ITM as part of the New Zealand hardware retail chain.
His return at age 28 on Sunday is a great achievement and his involvement in the AFL New Zealand Premiership is a fitting reward for one of the modern influences on High Performance within New Zealand.