20/04/2024
Trent Hentschel ahead of the 2005 Semi Final. Picture: Heather/Flickr

Trent Hentschel ahead of the 2005 Semi Final. Picture: Heather/Flickr

In part two of our interview with former Crow Trent Hentschel, we talk about that infamous injury, the aftermath and his return to footy.

Heading into the penultimate round of the 2006 AFL season the Adelaide Crows were entrenched in the top two, playing an exciting brand of football and perfectly poised for a deep finals run. 

With a cut throat Showdown on the agenda, the club’s season was quickly turned on its head with up and coming key forward Trent Hentschel going down with what turned out to be a career altering injury. 

Going into the match, Hentschel had just began to show real signs of his prodigious talent and potential at AFL level, playing 19 games and kicking 42 goals and 23 behinds. 

Hentschel says the day was a massive blur, with one unfortunate contest flipping the trajectory of his career on its head. 

“Early on in the Showdown I just got tackled and unfortunately the knee got caught under the opposition player and buckled,” he told The Inner Sanctum.

“Straight away I knew I was in a bit of trouble with the pain coming through sharply, I then found out not long after I’d done some serious damage to the knee and was going to have to face a long period of rehab.” 

The following two years would be a constant struggle for the young key forward, as he battled his way through a tumultuous period of rehabilitation riddled with unfortunate setbacks. 

“From that point [the day of the injury], I underwent a pretty significant period of rehab to get back to a stage some 22 months later where I could finally play again,” he said.

He says this two year stint out of the game was one filled with both mental and physical challenges, with the support of the club and his family vital in his ability to get through it. 

“There’s no doubt it was challenging at times, both physically as I tried as hard as I could to get back to somewhere near where I was before [I went down with the injury],” he said.

“Then mentally as well I faced the challenge of continually backing up when you’re facing things like hamstring injuries and more surgery along the way.

“That was probably the most challenging part of it all, but I couldn’t have asked for anymore from the club, the medicos and the high performance team, they were outstanding in the way they managed how I was being treated.

“Then having a good solid support base of family and friends off the field, it certainly helped a lot in getting through those tough times.” 

Having sat out the entirety of the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Hentschel began to return to full fitness throughout the pre season of 2009 and earned a recall to the Crows side for their round one clash against Collingwood at the MCG. 

This is a day Hentschel holds incredibly dear, as he finally saw all of his hard work in rehab over the previous 22 months come to fruition. 

“There were times I genuinely thought it [an AFL return] wouldn’t happen, so to get back out there was as special a moment as my first game,” he said.

“Similarly to my debut, I didn’t produce a whole lot on the field, but to be out there against Collingwood at the ‘G it was just awesome and to get a close win, it was a pretty memorable day.” 

Hentschel would be a solid contributor across the 2009 season, slotting into a dangerous Adelaide forward line that powered the team to the second week of the finals. 

The Crows season would end at the hands of Collingwood in an epic Semi Final at the MCG, remembered most notably for the heroics of Jack Anthony in the dying moments. 

“To have the opportunity to go out and play in a final was great and it was just unfortunate how ended it with that free kick at the end,” he said.

“After the siren it was certainly disappointing and I do see it as a lost opportunity, but after everything I had been through it was great to have the chance to play in another final.” 

Hentschel would return to the Crows in 2010 for his eighth and final season, with persistent injuries seeing the key forward unable to get on the field. 

He says the decision to retire was a relatively straightforward one as his body did not allow him to perform at his best.

“Since I did the knee I probably never got back to anything physically over 60-70% in terms of my size, strength and how I could move,” he said. 

“That probably all just caught up with me [in 2010] and I remember having a really good chat with Craigy and he knew I was probably just managing it [the knee] a bit and at some point you’ve got to be prepared to do it again.

“Towards the end little things would happen on the track whether it be a hamstring or the knee bleeding and it got to the point where I realised I wasn’t physically capable of even training at AFL level, let alone playing.”

Having officially announced his retirement prior to the end of the season, Hentschel would join club legends Andrew McLeod, Simon Goodwin and Brett Burton in hanging up the boots. 

With the Crows 2010 campaign set to end in a final round clash against St Kilda at AAMI Stadium, Hentschel was approached by the club to join his legendary retiring teammates for one last lap of honour as they said goodbye to a golden era. 

This was an invitation he reluctantly accepted. 

“I wouldn’t say I was comfortable being apart of it,” he said.

“I had to be talked into it at the time due to the stature of those guys and my career being nowhere near the level of theirs.

“At the same time I was grateful to be given the opportunity [to say goodbye to the fans].” 

Despite the adversity and setbacks, Hentschel looks back on his career with pride saying he was just thankful to go out and do what he loved for eight years. 

“I look back and consider myself very lucky to go through everything that I did, met the people I did and had the experiences I did,” he said.

“If you had of told me in Darwin as an 18 year old [playing footy] is what I’d do for a living and that’s how [my career] would pan out, I would take it every day of the week.” 

As for the the iconic nickname “Trent Potential”, he says it does not effect him and how he views his career. 

“People almost expect me to take it as an insult or be offended by it,” he said.

“It is what it is, that’s something I was given and not’s something I spend a whole lot of time thinking about.”

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