Nathan Van Berlo’s pre-season injury was the one that kick-started a flurry among several clubs this month. He will be out for at least three months and was forced to have surgery after rupturing an achilles tendon in a speed drill at training a few weeks ago. Taylor Walker is ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation from an ACL injury, and trained indoors this week, yet will not be a factor until May. Scott Thompson (minor hip surgery) and Brent Reilly (shoulder) are moving freely in non-contact drills and close to resuming full training. Josh Jenkins (broken leg) is already back in action, however Tom Lynch is not as advanced on the comeback from foot surgery.
Jonathan Brown’s pre-season was held up slightly with a stress reaction from the surgery he had to his plantar fascia injury. He is now starting to increase his training having received the all clear from the specialist. Daniel Merrett is training fully and on target for the NAB Challenge, despite being on a moderated program pre-Christmas coming back from a broken leg. Claye Beams (knee) was also given the green light this week to return to full contact training, while recruits Luke McGuane and Jackson Paine remain in the rehabilitation group.
It’s all good news at the Blues, with Mick Malthouse expected to have a full list to choose from come round one. Dale Thomas started running a few months ago and will join full training for the first time next week as he looks for game time in the NAB Challenge. The foot injury Matthew Kreuzer suffered late last year is still healing and remains the only concern.
Dane Swan had post-season wrist surgery and got back into ball work early this month, but has been able to run before then. Nathan Brown (shoulder and knee) also had minor surgery but was back in training before Christmas. Alan Toovey has done everything right on return from his ACL and could be available for round one. Clinton Young had a light load prior to Christmas, while the Pies are being similarly cautious with Alex Fasolo’s recovery from his navicular bone injury. Jarrod Witts and Ben Sinclair are both three months removed from shoulder reconstructions and are in line to play either NAB 1 or 2, as is Marty Clark, who had an ankle reconstruction. Brisbane recruit Patrick Karnezis has been put on light duties as he tries to overcome a nagging groin injury.
The big story dropped this week – Tom Bellchambers out for at least three months after injuring his ankle during match simulation. His surgery, basically an ankle reconstruction, was a complete success however the club’s medical staff does not expect him to be back running for at least 10 weeks, meaning the round 6 Anzac Day blockbuster against Collingwood looms as the most likely comeback date. The only other noteworthy concern was Brendon Goddard, who injured his calf in December and had to have his loads managed, although he is now back in full training looking ahead to the NAB Challenge.
Zac Clarke’s posterior ligament strain is not as bad as first thought. It was originally feared the injury sustained in an accident at a music festival on New Years Eve would keep him out for two months and severely compromise his chances for round one. However he is expected to be fully recovered and back in training before the end of February. Stephen Hill was recently put on light duties for a week with thigh tightness. Kepler Bradley, Jon Griffin and Anthony Morabito, all in knee reconstruction programs, are unlikely to be ready for the season opener, while Alex Silvagni (foot) will remain out of action well into the season.
The Cats revealed on Thursday that captain Joel Selwood had undergone minor surgery on his foot. The Cats had been managing Selwood through the pain but, after consulting with a specialist, decided that surgery was the better option. He is expected to be back running in two or three weeks and won’t miss any of the home-and-away season. The club has put a line through Daniel Menzel until the midway point of the season due to his repeated knee problems, while Dawson Simpson (knee) is training with the main group and injury-plagued Hamish McIntosh has shown encouraging signs. Corey Enright (knee), who got injured in the finals, is trouble-free and Allen Christensen is up and running after hip surgery. Shane Kersten (knee) is on track for the NAB Challenge, while Steve Motlop was carefully monitored as he recovers from patella tendinitis.
Daniel Gorringe sustained a minor ankle injury after tweaking the joint during a match simulation drill before Christmas. Rory Thompson and Tom Nicholls were closely monitored before Christmas on the comeback trail from surgery and injuries, while Charlie Dixon is progressing well from a lingering ankle injury that plagued his 2013 campaign. Luke Russell (hip) and Aaron Hall (groin) were also on managed workload. Zac Smith has impressed the medical staff by making big gains over the summer after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament last year. Nathan Bock had the rod removed from the leg he broke last year and is still having his workloads monitored to ensure there are no complications.
Greater Western Sydney
A training mishap in December forced Tim Mohr to the sidelines until mid-April. The foot fracture means he will miss the start of the home-and-away season. Jonathon Patton continues his rehabilitation from a knee reconstruction, and is not being rushed. Callan Ward and Devon Smith both had delayed starts due to post-season hip surgery.
All eyes remain on the four Hawks struck down by serious knee injuries last year. Matt Suckling (March) and Ryan Schoenmakers (April) both suffered ACL tears early last year but have progressed in their recovery to the point where they are close to joining in full training. Alex Woodward is in a similar position, while Brendan Whitecross, who went down in last year’s preliminary final, is much further back in his rehabilitation but has recently begun running on the treadmill.
It’s all about the key forwards for the Demons. Chris Dawes had a late start due to off season knee surgery, and Jesse Hogan jarred his knee at training on January 10, but returned to the track this week. Mitch Clark (foot fracture) has a crucial six weeks coming up which will decide if he plays in the NAB Challenge, but should be right to play early in the year at least. Adelaide recruit Aidan Riley is building up his recovery program from the broken leg he sustained midway through last year.
Captain Andrew Swallow (Achilles) is hopeful of running soon, but is still a long way from returning, while Majak Daw (knee) is already back running and ahead of schedule, and Tom Curran (foot) is hoping to start running by February. Leigh Adams (knee and shoulder), Cameron Delaney (toe) and Aaron Mullett (toe) are all on modified programs, Scott Thompson (knee) was, but is now back to full training. Liam Anthony (shoulder) and Kieran Harper (ankle) are participating in main skills sessions.
A reasonably smooth pre-season hit the skids this week when Jackson Trengove landed awkwardly while attempting to take a mark at training this week. Port initially feared he’d done significant damage but scans revealed only bruising to the knee. He will miss four weeks of training. Hamish Hartlett (shoulder), Jarrad Redden (hip, shoulder, knee) and Jack Hombsch (hip) all had surgery either in the off-season or during pre-season but are now back in training.
Reece Conca has treaded a progressive pathway into pre-season after rupturing his hamstring in the elimination final last year. He had corrective surgery on both his hamstring and ankle, and might not be ready for round one. But besides Conca, the Tigers are relatively clear. Chris Knights has trained strongly coming off the dislocated knee cap and surgery in May last year, while young forward Liam McBean has also elevated his output after suffering a nasty ankle injury.
Top draft pick Jack Billings suffered a quad strain during the club’s high-altitude camp in Colorado in early December, but has made a quick return and is back in full training. Recruit Luke Delaney (hip) was in the recovery group pre-Christmas, but has since progressed well, as has Arryn Siposs, who is now showing no signs of his previous shoulder issues. Same goes for Jake Newnes. Rhys Stanley (hip and shoulder) is also back doing high-level body contact work and will be in full training soon, while Tom Simpkin (shin) has already joined his team-mates. James Gwilt (knee) is up and going, albeit with managed loads.
Leroy Jetta suffered a minor set-back last week, forced to undergo minor knee surgery, but will be back running in another week. Adam Goodes will go into 2014 underdone after a pre-season dominated by knee rehabilitation. Lewis Robertson-Thomson (knee) is edging towards a return to full training for the first time in eight months. Alex Johnson is back running and close to joining Roberts-Thomson on the road back from two major knee injuries. Rhys Shaw is another recovering from a torn ACL suffered in August last year. Mike Pyke (knee), Tom Mitchell (foot) should re-join full training shortly.
West Coast Eagles
Nic Naitanui was still training separately from the main group as late as last week, trying to battle back from the groin problems that so interrupted his 2013 season. The Eagles would love to have both he and Sharrod Wellingham ready to go for the NAB Challenge. Wellingham, coming off a frustrating first-up season where he was limited to just 10 games because of an ankle injury, was forced to back off his training loads earlier this month after another minor injury setback. Vice-captain Beau Waters continued his bad luck during the pre-season when he was grounded by an infection in his shoulder from surgery he had late last season. Waters could yet miss a sizeable chunk of the new season under the worst-case scenario.
Jarrad Grant will miss the start of the season after succumbing to a foot fracture. A fellow team-mate landed on his left foot in a tackle during training last week and scans revealed he would need surgery and six weeks in a supportive boot. Shaun Higgins is building his work load to hopefully put his navicular problems behind him and be ready for the early rounds of the season. Clay Smith is tracking well on his return from an ACL knee injury suffered in July, while Christian Howard (hip) has also had his pre-season monitored.