The Achilles club doesn't have a waiting list and it's not something people want to join, but the camaraderie between players who have experienced the injury extends throughout the league.

When Hawthorn star Jarryd Roughead saw Andrew Swallow rupture an Achilles late last year, he immediately sent a text message to the North Melbourne captain offering his support and advice after sustaining the same setback in 2011.

When Swallow heard that Adelaide skipper Nathan van Berlo had damaged his Achilles earlier this year, he had no hesitation in contacting him. The three-man Achilles club has helped them understand the injury and increased a bond that started when they were juniors.

"When you go through that you understand and you feel for the guys going through it," Swallow said.

"We're all competitors on the field but off the field we are all AFL players. We're all going through the same issues. I was fortunate because I played in the AIS squad with Roughy, so I got to know him there. I played 18s with VB, so it's been handy that I've known these guys.

"It's great to learn from them."

Roughead enjoyed a breakout 2013, claiming the Coleman Medal, a maiden All-Australian jumper and a second premiership medallion. It has inspired Swallow and van Berlo.

The Adelaide captain is still on crutches and wearing a moon boot, while Swallow is back running. His initial aim was to return in round six, but he said North Melbourne wouldn't let him rush back.

"It's been hard. Harder than I thought it was going to be," Swallow said.

"It plays on your mind and you think am I ever going to be able to run again? But now I'm back and running and with games around the corner it gets you excited."

Patience has been a clear theme among the trio after Roughead needed additional surgery eight weeks into his rehabilitation because of an infection. Swallow said that knowledge made him pedantic about keeping the wound clean.

He told van Berlo to focus on increasing calf strength because of the amount of wastage he experienced while wearing a moon boot. Van Berlo said the advice had forced him to reassess his normal rehabilitation.

"He said you've got to be really patient with it early on. It's slow steps early and you can afford to hold back and make the ground up later down the track," van Berlo said.

"As hard as that's going to be for me, I've heard it from him and Jarryd Roughead so I think it's about to sink in."

"It plays on your mind and you think am I ever going to be able to run again?""North Melbourne captain *Andrew Swallow *

The West Australian

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