AFL: Hawthorn have moved to the top of the ladder with a 26-point win over the Gold Coast Suns.
KADE Kolodjashnij has finally shaken the symptoms of his Round 12 concussion and will return to take on St Kilda on Saturday.
The Suns will also welcome back Jack Martin and Callum Ah Chee but will lose Trent McKenzie (quad) from the side that lost to Hawthorn in Launceston at the weekend.
The Suns are getting closer to full strength but are still without Jesse Lonergan (illness), Adam Saad and Sean Lemmens (hamstring) from the players who have been regulars this season.
Lonergan is expected to return the following week for the Q Clash but the other two are likely to be out for two more weeks.
Ruckman Daniel Currie, who has competed for the number one position all season with Tom Nicholls, had finger surgery on Tuesday and will miss the next five weeks.
A decision on whether Jaeger O’Meara will play NEAFL, in what would be his first game since the 2015 pre-season, will be made on Friday while David Swallow is about a month off.
Football manager Marcus Ashcroft said the side was gaining confidence they could start to string together some wins now the injury crisis was easing.
“Kolodjashnij will be back, it was a pretty significant knock but he is much better this week,’’ he said.
“And we get Jack and Callum back.
“Slowly but surely we are getting players back and the belief is growing.
“Our better players, except Jaeger and David who we haven’ had all year, are out there and are starting to play well.’’
The emergence of Peter Wright and the continued development of Sam Day has been the best story out of the Suns this season.
Wright got his start alongside Tom Lynch in the forward line when Day was seconded to defence in the absence of Steven May and Rory Thompson but coach Rodney Eade believes the side can carry all three in attack.
Wright said the Suns believed their three-pronged forward line could be a point of difference within the competition — much like the premiership Lions who played Alastair Lynch, Jonathan Brown and Daniel Bradshaw together when all were fit.
He said the attention defenders paid to Lynch, who is now a true star of the competition, made his life easier but he also paid homage to Day whose pressure was what allowed the side to use three talls.
“It is definitely a point of difference we have and we all compliment each other,’’ he said
“Tom is an amazing one-on-one competitor, he will beat anyone in the game.
“Sam Day’s pressure acts are excellent, he also has good hands and is a great kick.
“We just work on working well together and we think we can create one-on-one opportunities for each other.
“If we can continue that forward pressure it won’t take away from us in that perspective and then we can stretch teams who will need to find three tall defenders.’’