Your club’s walking wounded is brought to you by the letters A, C and L… let’s hope that’s the last we hear of those letters for a while, right?
So, around this time of year, we start to get the messages you really don’t want to hear. No longer is it “delayed start to pre-season” or “week or two on a modified program”. Now, we start hearing the statement that players “won’t be ready for Round One”.
Or even worse “It’s season over for…”
We heard it in regard to young St Kilda defender, Ben Paton this week, who suffered the same injury that destroyed Tom Mitchell’s 2019 season before it even started. A tibia/fibula break is a season-ender, and in some cases, a career-ender. Nathan Brown was never the same after he snapped his leg in 2005.
So, in case you’re not up to date, and in a few ways, to bring myself up to speed, here is the injury list at your club. Who is looking as though they may miss the start of the season?
Leaves a decent size hole in the defence if these blokes don’t come up for Round One, particularly when you consider they lost Kyle Hartigan in the off-season as well. I know he wasn’t the favourite player of many, but he was a strong body that could take on a big job.
That said, reports are that, barring any further mishaps, both should be ready for the opener.
The Crows will also get Wayne Milera back, which should cover Rory Laird as he heads into the guts more often.
Matt Crouch had hip surgery in the off-season, but seems to be tracking well.
Overall, they’re well-positioned with only minor concerns if Talia and Doedee can get right. Doedee, in particular, needs a season where he plays 20 games. He is a future leader of the club but is doing no one any good with multiple long stints on the sidelines.
Gardiner is the only casualty for the Lions at this stage, ruled out for Round One as he recovers from knee surgery. He carried a big load for the Lions last season, really stepping up his game in some key matchups later in the year.
Lachie Neale had a delayed start to his pre-season after an ankle injury, but you’d think he would have a high fitness base and working into game shape should not be an issue after missing a couple of intra-club games.
Amazingly, Joe Daniher looks like he’s set to go and snagged the lazy four goals in the last hit out the Lions had. I wonder how Essendon fans feel seeing him up and about after two years of being a non-factor? His trajectory was wonderful prior to that groin injury. If he picks up where he left off in 2018, he could be the recruit of the year.
Curnow’s knee issues are a real concern, as is the manner he re-injured it. Three of his four knee injuries have come away from the field. You’d be watching him like a hawk if you were involved in his rehab.
Kemp is yet to play a game for the Blues, but was highly regarded before an ACL injury derailed his rookie year. The injury holding him back at the moment is a syndesmosis injury, which is basically an injury that I often misspell. And thus we reach the limit of my knowledge around syndesmosis. It’s a high ankle injury, right?
Anyway, Kemp will most likely debut at some point this season – it just won’t be too early.
Curnow aside, not a bad picture of health for the Blues.
JORDAN DE GOEY
Adams had a bit of a hamstring injury early this week and is touch and go to be right for the start of the season. If you’re Collingwood, you give him every chance to prove himself fit, but you don’t take any risks at all with a Round One team.
Jordan de Goey returned in good nick, from all reports. However, an abdominal strain is a very de Goey-ish kind of injury. Every time he seems to be ready to deliver, something bobs up and derails him. This could be de Goey’s most important season with the Pies. After re-signing with the team and costing a couple of players their opportunities to do the same (not on him – it was a team issue), de Goey has a bit of weight to carry for this team.
As goes de Goey in 2021, so go the Pies.
The big issues appear to revolve around Michael Hurley and Jake Stringer.
Hurley was admitted to hospital to address what was described as a hip infection – how the hell do you get a hip infection? Hope it’s not a Dermott Brereton-hip infection around the 1990ish timeframe. That was a nasty one…
Stringer is battling a sore Achillies, and these types of injuries can hang around for months. The Dons claim he’ll be resuming full training in a couple of weeks, but the Achilles is a tricky one and it would not surprise me to see him miss the first couple of weeks. The larger issue here is that Stringer doesn’t retain fitness levels well. Go back and watch him in the first half of 2020 as opposed to the second half. He looks like a different player after missing six weeks. Looked like he’d been on the see/sea-food diet at one stage.
Patrick Ambrose, an underrated lockdown defender is still being hampered by a Lisfranc injury, which is (checks out duck duck go) where the midfoot and forefoot meet in a nice little mix of bone and ligament – sounds complimacated or something. Given his lack of work, he will be in doubt and could be a slow build into the season.
If both Hurley and Ambrose are absent, Essendon will be hoping that Bzerk-Thatcher is able to step up his defensive game quickly. He looked great in the 2020 pre-season.
Now, this is unfamiliar territory for the Dockers, with just Tabs and Sean Darcy on the injury list to really worry about. No Alex Pearce as the first name you read. No Joel Hamling. Just Tabs and Darcy – let’s hope they get a clean bill of health soon, as well.
Taberner has “quad awareness” which I absolutely love because I am a few years removed from having a little one and she’d sometimes get feet awareness when she held onto them – it was like she’d never seen them before. Same with her hands. That’s how I picture players when they get awareness – “Oh my god… I have quads! I need to be aware of these”
Darcy is currently in a knee brace, which isn’t the world, but it’s hardly a positive sign. The big fella is one of those blokes who looked like he needed to drop five kilos to ease the stress on his body. He could be a top-flight ruck – it’s not as though anyone is going to outbody him too easily. If he is fit and Rory Lobb gets over whatever was stopping him from attacking the footy, this Freo team could make some noise.
Mitch Duncan has the old man’s injury at the moment – the repeat strained calf that looks as though it may hamper him in his preparation for Round One. I would not be surprised if the Cats err on the side of caution and give him the extra week to get himself right.
Dahlhaus and Dangerfield are yet to join the main group for training this season. Dahlhaus is struggling to overcome a groin injury, whilst Dangerfield is still having issues with his own groin (better than having issues with someone else’s, I suppose) and whilst the Cats are confident he’ll be right for the opener, you’d be silly to push him too hard, too soon.
In better news, no issues for Joel Selwood, but let’s face it – a building could fall on him and he’d get himself up for Round One. That’s the kind of fella he is.
The Suns should hit the ground running, with just two names on the injury list currently, and one of them was already in recovery when he was drafted.
Elijah Hollands has the daunting task of being the new young fella at Gold Coast, with big shoes to fill behind last year’s debutants. His recovery from a knee reconstruction will have the Suns exercising a lot of patience with him as he builds confidence and trust in his body again.
Rory Thompson is a long-time removed from the game now, last playing in 2018. At his best, he would be a great support to reigning best and fairest, Sam Collins, but the jury is well and truly out on how much of a role he has this season.
Speaking of Collins, his workload is increasing steadily as he works back from ankle surgery in the off-season. A very positive outlook overall for the Suns.
Double blow in the last week has seen Lachie Whitfield ruled out for an extended period with a bruised liver. Yeah, I don’t know how that happens, but I do know a lot of people who have damaged livers… they tend to do that stuff to themselves.
Whitfield was one of the Giants’ best-performed players in 2020. Losing him is a kick in the pants.
And as if that wasn’t bad enough, GWS went out and recruited Brayden Preuss to solve their ruck problems and now he’ll miss four or so months after requiring shoulder surgery.
Looks like old Mummy will be gearing up for another season as the GWS number one ruck – a role he should never have been in after his comeback.
This will hurt the Giants. They have been actively trying to get a big man of note onto their books so they can use Mumford as a backup, but Sam Jacobs was a disaster in 2020 and Preuss looks to have all but put a line through his 2021 season.
Well, It seems as though we should focus on Gunston here, as Patton is out indefinitely and with the AFL balancing allegations of sending lewd images (is that the official term? Dick pics? Is that it?) to several women, he is probably in as much doubt as James Sicily to play this season.
Sic is recuperating from an ACL injury in 2020, but it happened so late in the season he is likely to miss the entire 2021 season as well.
So, we turn to Gunston. Reports are that he has a bulging disc that will require rest for months. He is looking more like a mid-season addition to the side, at best.
So, what does that tell me about the Hawks in 2021?
They’re cooked. Gunston and Sicily are vital to structures so I guess we’ll see how Clarko goes about covering them this year with a team full of spare parts. He was a coaching genius with a great array of talent around him, but this Hawks team… how he goes with them will be something to keep an eye on.
A disaster for the Dees to start the season, with their two biggest hopes as key forwards succumbing to injury.
Ben Brown was a bit of a gamble, coming off a knee injury last season that severely limited his ability to compete and then saw him sit the second half of the season out. A promising intra-club hit out was soured when Brown experienced issues with the knee. Next thing you know, he’s out.
That would have been okay, because Sam Weideman has been coming along nicely. The Dees probably thought he was more ready than he really was two seasons ago, but he appeared a little more ready to take a step this season. Sadly, he has taken a step to the injury list.
Brown looks to be set for about a month on the sidelines as he recovers from arthroscopic surgery, but that is no guarantee he’ll find form following it, whilst Weideman underwent scans because he kept getting soreness in his upper leg. Turns out he had a crack in his femur… surprise, Sam! How annoyed would you be going in to get checked for a bit of soreness and you find out the largest bone in your body has a fracture?
Weed will be sidelined for approximately three months, which has prompted the Dees to reach out to Majak Daw to fill in.
The Roos lost both Anderson and Goldstein during their intra-club match on Friday.
Goldstein appeared to be nursing a rib injury after a hard clash, whilst Anderson looked to have injured a calf muscle early in the game, limping off and not returning. There are chances that both guys’ injuries are minor and that both will be prepared for Round One, but when players start going down with four weeks to go… it’s not ideal.
Aidan Bonar, recruited from GWS last season, has a calf issue and more than likely will not be available for the opener.
Seeing such a short list of injured players would bolster the hopes of Kangaroos supporters after a season they’d rather forget. Ben Cunnington is also on the sidelines following a head knock, but you’d expect him to get over that pretty quickly – I reckon he’ll play in the pre-season one-game competition and be cherry ripe for Round One.
A CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH
If you’re wondering whether Port Adelaide would be in contention again in this season, wonder no more. They are poised to hit the 2021 season with the healthiest list in the competition.
There might be a niggle here or there, but by five games in, just about every player has something like that. There is nothing to worry about at Alberton at the moment – things can change quickly, but Port have the ideal run into the season.
Like Brisbane, a contender that looks cherry ripe to hit the ground running. Of all teams, Port seem to be in the box seat to start the season with a bang… unlike my friend Joe Ganino who is really struggling in that department these days. Ladies of Coffs Harbour… help the bloke out, please!
The Tigers are resigned to the fact their 2019 best and fairest winner, Prestia, will miss Round One with a hamstring strain. Hamstrings are usually a four week injury (more for old blokes like me) and the Tigers would be determined have Prestia at 100% when he resumes. No point rushing him in just so he debuts as the season starts. Given the time he missed last year, Prestia needs to be looked after in the early stages in order to have impact later in the year.
Ivan Soldo’s return is likely to be very late in the season, if at all, after his 2020 knee reconstruction, whilst the Tigers have nursed Bachar Houli through the pre-season after his calf injury in the Grand Final. Once again – the old man injury, which makes sense because Bachar is no spring chicken.
Overall, a pretty healthy list to choose from, but Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones will also be missing the first month and a half after their Covid breach in Queensland last season.
Ouch… the Saints have taken some hits in the last little while.
The big loss is that of young defender, Ben Paton, who will miss the entirety of the 2021 season following a tib/fib break at training when he was tackled by assistant coach, Jarryd Roughead… Settle down, Roughy!!!
Paton was an important part of the young St Kilda back six and he will be greatly missed. To make matters worse, one of the best young ruckmen in the game, Rowan Marshall, looking unlikely for Round One with a stress-related injury to his foot. For a big fella, this is the kind of injury that has to be monitored very closely. At around 105 kilograms, that’s a lot of pressure on Marshall’s pins – I expect the Saints to be very cautious with him.
Jarryn Geary broke his leg early in the pre-season and is still around five weeks away from recommencing any running. It’ll be a while til we see him.
Meanwhile, Zak Jones has a hamstring injury which makes him touch and go for R1, whilst Jade Gresham should be right to go after being nursed through the pre-season as he recovers from a stress-related injury in his back (that sounds a lot more serious than I thought) so you expect his loads would have been a really slow build over the last few months.
Not the ideal list for Saints fans after such a promising 2020. They’ll need a lift from blokes like Brad Hill and new recruit, Brad Crouch, as well as some heavy leaning on Paddy Ryder early on to get through while their troops recover.
Franklin is always the story, and will remain so for the remainder of his career. Right now, he seems like an injury waiting to happen and one more bad hamstring away from retirement. Damn, I hated writing that. I hope we get to see some flashes of vintage Buddy throughout the season but I think it’s a safe bet to state he won’t be lining up for Round One – the Swans will want him to have every chance to string games together and pushing him to make R1 just for the fact it is the first game of the year doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Heeney is looking a good chance for Round One after hurting an ankle in the pre-season. He is one bloke I reckon we need to see a full season from. He gets a bit of the star treatment from the AFL media – might be time to earn it.
Meanwhile, the acquisition of Tom Hickey to cover Sam Naismsith and help Callum Sinclair battle in the ruck will be important. Naismith will be a second half of the season return, at best, after his knee reco last season.
This is a big one – Elliot Yeo is the main concern for the Eagles, who have everyone else right around the mark they need them at – working into fitness just weeks before the commencement of the season.
Yeo missed a heap of time in 2020 and was unable to get back for finals as he battles osteitis pubis and that has carried over into 2021. The fact he is in doubt for Round One indicates his battle for fitness is far from over and sadly, you can picture a bit of an up and down season for Yeo as a result.
What does his absence mean for the Eagles? Between him and Shuey, you have the heartbeat of the West Coast midfield. Right now, with Shuey at 30 years old and just having his first intra-club hit out this week, they will need the Geelong-version of Tim Kelly and a bit more from blokes like Sheed and Redden until Yeo is right to go.
A lot of people speak about the value of Cripps at Carlton or Fyfe at Fremantle – do not discount the value of Yeo to the Eagles. When he is up and performing, chances are they are as well.
Treloar would be the worry here, with the Dogs having to pull him back a little with continued calf tightness. He has a recent history of soft tissue injuries (which was something he had never experienced until he tore both hammies a couple of seasons back). Word is that, all things going well, he should be right to go in Round One, but if there is one area the Dogs can afford to be a little cautious, it is with their mids – they’re stacked.
Wood is carrying a hamstring injury and is touch and go at the moment. His intercept marking and leadership offer plenty for the Dogs and though he is now at the tail end of his career, the club will err on the side of caution in terms of getting him absolutely right.
Finally, Toby McLean continues to work back from his 2020 ACL injury but as it occurred in September, it will take something special to see him in a red, white and blue guernsey this year.
So, there we go – you’d be pretty pleased if you are a Power, Lions or Tigers fan. Not so much if you’re a Saints supporter, but things change quickly. One day it’s diamonds and the next day it’s coal in terms of injury luck.
Tick tock… 26 days to go.
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