Western Bulldogs may still rest Darcy - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Western Bulldogs may still rest Darcy

06/03/2007 07:14:31 PM Comments (0)

The Western Bulldogs will welcome back three stars to AFL action this weekend, but star ruckman Luke Darcy might not be one of them.

The Bulldogs will give silky midfielder Adam Cooney, utility Robert Murphy and club games record-holder Chris Grant their first hit-outs of the new campaign, in a practice match against Essendon at Skilled Stadium.

However, the Bulldogs are considering resting Darcy for at least another week, which will prolong his absence from football after almost two seasons lost to serious knee injuries.

Darcy, 31, has not played since round six of the 2005 premiership season, and has only just resumed contact work at training after a hamstring setback earlier this year.

Coach Rodney Eade said the Bulldogs were in no mood to rush back one of their prized assets, especially after such wretched luck on the injury front in 2006.

"It's not a time issue," Eade said.

"He's just had his hamstring ... and he's been training well, but he hasn't done any competitive work since about a month ago.

"So we've got to make a decision whether he needs another week or not.

Eade was even content to let Darcy recover in his own time, even if that meant a delayed start to the premiership season.

"It's no urgency for round one. Whatever happens, happens," he said.

Murphy, another of last year's knee injury victims, will definitely play the Bombers, while Cooney will return after overcoming nagging soreness related to last year's battle against osteitis pubis.

Grant, 34, is ready to start his season after beginning his pre-season work in December, well after most of his teammates.

Meanwhile, the AFL is adamant it will stick with its new interpretation of the hands-in-the-back rule for the 2007 season.

Football operations manager Adrian Anderson said the league would not be going back on its rule change, where players will be penalised for putting their hands in an opponent's back regardless of whether they push.

The rule has come under fire from coaches and players, who were hopeful the AFL might revisit the controversial rule before the season starts on March 30.

Anderson said: "We are not going to change any of the rules or interpretations that have been previously announced for the home-and-away season.

"The stricter interpretation of the hands-in-the-back rule will stay."

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