DOB: 13 November 1979
From: Darwin/Woodville-West Torrens, Selection 50, 1999 National Draft
Number: 45 (2000-2009)
Statistical categories led:
Most games in jumper 45
A junior rugby league player who didn't switch to Australian rules until he was 15, Whelan played three seasons for the Northern Territory's Teal Cup side, but was overlooked in both the 1997 and 1998 AFL drafts. He moved to the SANFL and played 19 games for Woodville-West Torrens in 1999. After finishing second in the Darwin competition's best and fairest despite only playing nine games he finally arrived on the radar of AFL clubs. North Melbourne showed interest, but Melbourne got in three picks before them.
Surprising even himself with how well he took to the game's top competition, Whelan played 16 games in 2000, before a neck injury in Round 19 cost him a chance to play finals. Whelan was picked for a Northern Territory side to play Port Adelaide in the 2001 pre-season, before achilles and quad injuries kept him out until Round 6. He only played nine games for the year and missed finals with injury again in 2002. Whelan's first final didn't come until 2004.
Whelan battled injury again in 2005, suffering hamstring, hand and calf problems throughout the year. In Round 10 he was on the other end of an injury when he infamously laid a tackle on Nathan Brown of Richmond that ended in a horrific break for Brown's leg. More injuries restricted him to just five games in 2007, and Whelan retired at the end of 2009. He joined Frankston club Pines for 2010, before returning to Melbourne as an Indigenous Project Officer in 2020.
A courageous player on the field, Whelan jokingly credited this trait to the time when as a child he had been walking across what he thought was a log, but which turned out to be a crocodile.
|Round 16, 2000||Wrestling||$1200 fine|
|Round 16, 2003||Unduly Rough Play||Not Guilty|
|Round 18, 2005||Rough Conduct||1 match|
|Round 16, 2006||Melee||$1500 fine|
|Round 5, 2007||Striking||1 match|