Fit Roos cap­tain to skip AFLX

Geelong Advertiser - - AFL - JA­SON PHE­LAN

NORTH Mel­bourne skip­per Jack Ziebell has fully re­cov­ered from the in­juries that plagued him last year and is ready to play in the AFL sea­son-opener.

Ziebell was on a mod­i­fied train­ing pro­gram un­til early Jan­uary af­ter un­der­go­ing toe surgery and hav­ing also en­dured rib and col­lar­bone in­juries in 2017.

The 26-year-old wasn’t named in the Kan­ga­roos’ squad for to­mor­row night’s AFLX round-robin at Eti­had Sta­dium, but is set to fea­ture later in the pre-sea­son com­pe­ti­tion.

“He’s had a par­tic­u­larly good post-Christ­mas pe­riod,” coach Brad Scott said yes­ter­day.

“He did a lot of prepa­ra­tion with­out do­ing a lot of full train­ing prior to Christ­mas, but he’s come back from the break in great shape ... he’s ready to play any time.

“We’re just work­ing with him now to get him in ab­so­lutely per­fect shape for round one.

“How we struc­ture that we’re not quite sure yet. He won’t play AFLX but we ex­pect him to be ab­so­lutely right for (the first pre-sea­son com­pe­ti­tion game).”

Of more con­cern to Scott are Ma­son Wood and Declan Mount­ford who both picked up in­juries in the past week.

Mount­ford will miss up to a month of train­ing af­ter un­der­go­ing surgery to re­pair an AC joint, while Wood (frac­tured thumb) will be held out of full con­tact drills for up to three weeks.

In brighter news for North, vet­eran goal­kicker Jar­rad Waite has en­joyed an ex­cel­lent prepa­ra­tion ahead of his 16th AFL sea­son.

Waite, who has just turned 35, was re­stricted to 10 games last year by shoul­der and calf in­juries.

But he will play in the AFLX tour­na­ment and Scott is bullish about his prospects.

“It is a strange thing to say about some­one of his age, but he feels — and I agree with him — that his best footy is ahead of him, and he’s ob­vi­ously played some high level footy in the past,” the coach said.

“We’ll prob­a­bly man­age his pre-sea­son games to a cer­tain ex­tent, but I think the AFLX game will suit him.”

Pic­ture: EU­GENE HY­LAND

FRESH: North Mel­bourne cap­tain Jack Ziebell (front) will charge into 2018 sup­ported by lead­er­ship group (l-r) Rob­bie Tar­rant, Shaun Hig­gins and Jamie Macmil­lan.

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