AFTER two knee reconstructions and almost four years in the wilderness, Gold Coast defender Rory Thompson will return to the AFL on Saturday against Sydney.

Thompson last played on July 28, 2018, when the Suns lost to Carlton at Metricon Stadium by 35 points.

Since then, the 31-year-old has ruptured the ACL in his left knee in early 2019 and then partially tore the ACL in his right knee in August 2020, early into his comeback.

MEDICAL ROOM Check out the full injury list

Thompson returned to full training late in the pre-season and has played three VFL matches before earning his recall.

"It’s been a lot of hard work and thanks to everyone who has helped out along the way," Thompson said.

"It's been a bit of a tough journey, but all of the players and staff have made it so enjoyable, and I've still loved coming in every day through it all."

Coincidentally, the last away game Thompson played at senior level was also at the SCG, in one of the greatest wins in club history in 2018 when the rangy full-back kept Lance Franklin goalless.

Rory Thompson (L) and Steven May spoil Lance Franklin in round 18, 2018. Picture: AFL Photos