Hawks welcome back Hodge and Renouf - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hawks welcome back Hodge and Renouf

By Roger Vaughan 06/06/2009 12:47:30 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn have learnt their lesson, making sure their defensive general Luke Hodge is fully fit before letting him return to the AFL.

Hodge's inclusion has given the Hawks a massive boost for Sunday's game against Sydney at the MCG.

Ruckman Brent Renouf is also back in the senior side.

Hodge, last year's Norm Smith Medallist, had tried to play for several weeks with groin soreness as the Hawks coped with injury problems.

But Angus Monfries brilliantly exploited his lack of mobility in the upset round-seven defeat by Essendon and the Hawks knew it was time Hodge had a rest.

"We wouldn't play him if we didn't think he was right, he could have nearly played last week," said coach Alastair Clarkson.

"He's such a warhorse and that was our problem - we were playing him a little bit sore and sorry in a couple of games, just because of his resilience and toughness.

"He wanted to continue to play, especially with (Trent) Croad, (Stephen) Gilham, (Rick) Ladson and (Grant) Birchall, those sorts of guys, missing games early in the season.

"We've got him pretty right and hopefully he'll just be onwards and upwards from here."

Clarkson originally said Hodge would miss between two to four weeks and the coach admitted surprise that the star backman would be back this weekend.

The inclusion of Renouf is also interesting, given that Sydney smashed Hawthorn in the ruck when the Swans won in round two.

The Hawks were missing fellow ruckmen Robert Campbell and Simon Taylor, who are now in the side.

"We were depleted with both our back end and our rucks, we're a little bit better this time around," Clarkson said.

Meanwhile, Clarkson has defended AFL commentator and Hawthorn board member Jason Dunstall for his on-air outburst last weekend.

Dunstall threw fried rice over fellow radio commentator Stephen Quartermain as they argued about the future of Hawks player Trent Croad.

The key defender suffered a severe foot injury in last year's grand final win and has not played since.

Tempers became heated because Quartermain, a Hawks fan, quizzed Dunstall about whether the injury could threaten Croad's career.

The Hawks insist Croad will play again, possibly later this season.

"Jason was exactly right (in his assessment of Croad) and I guess that's what caused the concern in that situation," Clarkson said.

"You're questioning the integrity of Jason if he's saying that his understanding is that (Croad) is going to resume full training within the next couple of weeks and someone else is telling him his career is over.

"It's a matter of integrity, really, isn't it?

"That's exactly the case - Croady will probably resume full training in the next couple of weeks, with a view to stepping up to play some time in the latter part of the season."

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