Lions ruckman to undergo knee surgery - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lions ruckman to undergo knee surgery

14/04/2009 06:45:41 PM Comments (0)

By his own admission, Mitch Clark will have to "step up to fill the void" following the devastating news that Brisbane Lions ruckman Matthew Leuenberger has been ruled out for three months with a knee injury.

In what was described as a "worst case scenario" by Lions coach Michael Voss, Leuenberger was diagnosed with a meniscus cartilage tear in his left knee, requiring surgery.

The 20-year-old limped off in the third minute of the Lions' 33-point win over Sydney last Saturday night but returned to the field, only to aggravate the injury.

Voss had initially hoped Leuenberger would be sidelined for just "four-to-six weeks".

The Lions have the luxury of veteran ruckman Jamie Charman returning from the reserves against Collingwood at the Gabba on Friday night.

But Clark, 21, will be asked to provide plenty of back-up in the ruck as Charman regains full match fitness following a pre-season disrupted by a knee complaint.

Clark got a taste of what to expect in the next 12 weeks when he filled in admirably for Leuenberger against the Swans.

But big shoes await Clark after the "huge loss" of Leuenberger, the No.4 selection in the 2006 national draft who had surpassed Charman as the Lions' No.1 ruckman.

"Charmo and I are going to have to really step up to fill the void," Clark told AAP.

"His injury is a huge loss. He was really hitting good form this year."

But if Clark was feeling nervous about the task ahead, he didn't show it after being told of the extent of Leuenberger's injury at the Gabba on Tuesday.

"There's no pressure at all. I'm definitely comfortable in that role," Clark said.

"That's the role I needed to play for the team on the weekend and that's probably what I have to do until Matt comes back.

"I'm just hoping he has a speedy recovery and gets back to playing good footy because he is going to be a great player."

Cynics would suggest Clark's body would have buckled if asked to fill in for Leuenberger in the past.

He has been so injury-plagued that he has been limited to just 25 games since his 2006 AFL debut.

Despite undergoing minor knee surgery in the off-season, Clark believes his injury curse is behind him.

"I guess I was a tall young kid who has taken a bit longer to develop," he said.

"The body had not been able to cope with the rigours of AFL.

"But I have been able to string games together and hopefully I can continue to do that, improve my game and contribute for the team."

Taken at No.9 in the 2005 draft, Clark is considered by the club as one of the Lions' next superstars.

Despite Clark's shocking injury history, the Lions held off overtures from West Coast and Fremantle to re-sign the WA product last May on a multi-year deal.

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