Hendo hor­ror story

Good news for Greg­son, but back­man under knife

Geelong Advertiser - - SPORT - DAMIEN RACTLIFFE

GEE­LONG will be with­out star de­fender Lachie Hen­der­son un­til “later this year” af­ter he un­der­went an athro­scope on his right knee yes­ter­day.

Hen­der­son, who had the first lot of surgery on his knee at the end of the 2017 sea­son fol­lowed by more in De­cem­ber, won’t be rushed back, with the Cats fo­cused on get­ting him fit for the pointy end of the sea­son.

But the news was bet­ter for Cory Greg­son, with scans re­veal­ing the small for­ward suf­fered a mid­foot sprain in Sun­day’s win over St Kilda.

There had been fears he had re-ag­gre­vated a trou­ble­some nav­ic­u­lar bone in­jury, but he’s now in the clear.

“Cory is in good spir­its with a pos­i­tive mind­set,” Gee­long’s footy boss Si­mon Lloyd said.

“He will be­gin weight bear­ing on the foot over the com­ing days, which is a great out­come.”

Lloyd said Hen­der­son’s lat­est oper­a­tion “went as ex­pected”.

“We be­lieve this will al­low him to re­turn to foot­ball later this year,” he said.

“Lachie con­tin­ues to re­main fo­cused on do­ing all he can to get back to foot­ball and will work closely with the club’s med­i­cal team on the next steps in his re­hab.”

Gee­long is al­ready with­out Gary Ablett (ham­string), Cameron Guthrie (an­kle), Nakia Cockatoo (knee) and Hen­der­son’s de­fen­sive part­ner Harry Tay­lor (foot), but a num­ber of young Cats have stepped up to fill the voids.

Sec­ond-year player Tom Ste­wart has been the big­gest bene­fac­tor of Tay­lor’s ab­sence from the Gee­long side, ac­cord­ing to Zach Tuohy.

The for­mer Carl­ton de­fender has be­come close with his fel­low half-back flanker, who joined the Cats at the same time.

Tuohy said Ste­wart had been the sil­ver lin­ing out of Tay­lor’s in­jury ab­sence.

“He’s an­other guy, es­pe­cially in the last two weeks, has gone to a whole new level,” Tuohy said.

“His first year was pretty im­pres­sive — ob­vi­ously he’s a lit­tle bit older — but what he’s been able to do in the last two weeks . . . he’s gone to a whole new level, al­most to the point where peo­ple are go­ing to start look­ing at him and try to stop his in­flu­ence, be­cause it’s re­mark­able what he’s do­ing.”

Tuohy joked that he and Ste­wart, who are both into tat­toos and golf, prob­a­bly spend too much time to­gether.

“I can take or leave him, he’s an all-right guy,” Tuohy laughed.

“We spend a lit­tle bit of time on the golf course dig- ging it up, but we get along well.

“Ob­vi­ously we spend a lot of time play­ing to­gether in prox­im­ity, so it’s kind of come off-field as well.”

The Cats have had to re­shape their back­line with­out Tay­lor and Lachie Hen­der­son, but Tuohy said young de­fend­ers Jack Henry and Zach Guthrie had well equipped them­selves at the level.

“This is great ex­po­sure for them,” he said.

“Guys like Zach Guthrie, we could tell pretty quickly he was go­ing to have ex­cep­tional lead­er­ship qual­i­ties.

“Jack Henry comes in, the work he’s done and the steps he’s taken this pre-sea­son has been re­mark­able.

“We’d like to get Harry and ‘Hendo’ back but the young guys are do­ing all right, I reckon.” GEE­LONG de­fender Jake Kolod­jash­nij has thrown his sup­port be­hind the push for a Tas­ma­nian AFL team.

Kolod­jash­nij, drafted to the Cats af­ter im­press­ing as a ju­nior for Prospect and Launce­s­ton, ad­mit­ted there was a lot to play out be­fore his home state could have its own team, but said he was con­fi­dent the Tas­ma­nian com­mu­nity would get be­hind a state-based side.

“A lot of things have got to play out to get to that point but I’d love to see a team down there,” Kolod­jash­nij said. “It’s a footy first state and I think the com­mu­nity would def­i­nitely get around it.

“Even with North Mel­bourne and Hawthorn down there, I know when I was grow­ing up I used to love to get down to the footy and watch those guys go about their busi­ness so I think if they had their own footy team down there ev­ery­one would back it and get be­hind it. “I can’t see why it wouldn’t work.”

The sub­ject of a Tas­ma­nian AFL team has been a top­i­cal one for years but has been a promi­nent topic of dis­cus­sion within the AFL in­dus­try since the start of the sea­son.

Rich­mond CEO Bren­don Gale, an ex­port of the Ap­ple Isle, told 3AW on Satur­day the state should have its own side and added it was clear that the league had to make a greater fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment in Tas­ma­nian foot­ball. “I don’t think there is enough money go­ing into Tas­ma­nia, par­tic­u­larly (into) path­ways and es­tab­lish­ing acad­e­mies,” Gale said.

Kolod­jash­nij joins a strong co­hort of cur­rent play­ers in­clud­ing Jack Riewoldt and Mitch Robin­son, as well as Bris­bane coach Chris Fa­gan, who would like to see an AFL team based in Tas­ma­nia, and said he was hope­ful lo­cal of­fi­cials could turn things around af­ter some dif­fi­cult times.

Pic­ture: ALI­SON WYND

MILE­STONE: Zach Tuohy at GMHBA Sta­dium yes­ter­day ahead of his 150th game against Port Ade­laide on Satur­day.

Worry: Lachie Hen­der­son has had more surgery on his knee.

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