Hodge impresses in VFL hitout - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hodge impresses in VFL hitout

Roger Vaughan 18/03/2011 08:39:08 PM Comments (0)

Luke Hodge's prospects of captaining Hawthorn in round one of the AFL have improved after a promising hitout on Friday.

Hodge played longer than expected for the Hawks' VFL affiliate Box Hill in a trial match against Williamstown on Friday afternoon at Whitten Oval.

It was the new captain's first match at any level for the pre-season as he recovers from an achilles tendon injury.

The Hawks open their season on Saturday week with an away night game against Adelaide.

"I played 15 or so minutes more than I'd planned to and it feels really good, better than it has at any time in the last seven weeks of training" Hodge said.

"The key is not to rush it - the first box to tick was getting through today unscathed, now we just see how it pulls up."

Hodge is optimistic but also cautious, noting that achilles injuries are temperamental.

He said the tendon did not feel good on the morning of the game, but it came up well after a solid warmup.

Hawks football manager Mark Evans was also wary of declaring Hodge a certain round-one starter for now.

"We got what we wanted out of it, now it's a matter of how it pulls up and where we go from here," Evans said.

Ruckman Max Bailey, returning from his latest knee injury, also played in the match and looked to have taken another positive step in his comeback.

Meanwhile, Hodge's team-mate Grant Birchall expects to play most of this season in defence, despite a spell through the midfield during the pre-season.

"I think I will be playing down back for the majority of the year," he said.

"But obviously with the sub rule, there's been a lot of emphasis on being really fit and a lot of aerobic work.

"It was great for a bit of a change-up, I sneak down forward and kick a goal every now and again, it's not too bad."

Birchall tore his hamstring late last season, but has enjoyed a solid preparation over summer.

"Early on in the pre-season I had to do a little bit and strengthen the 'hammy' back up again, it's all good to go now," he said.

There are big expectations at Hawthorn after two disappointing seasons and Birchall said they had given themselves every chance.

"If you look at our list, it's pretty good, a lot of potential there," he said.

"The last couple of years have been disappointing, so we need to perform - we've done all the work to do so."

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