Hodge claws his way back to full fitness - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hodge claws his way back to full fitness

Greg Buckle 09/05/2011 05:32:44 PM Comments (0)

Luke Hodge is a classic example of an AFL captain who leads by example.

However an achilles injury has left the tough utility running on something less than a full tank this season.

The 26-year-old missed the club's loss to Adelaide in round one and is still working his way back to full fitness.

Hodge was given the massive honour of being named All-Australian skipper last year, despite only being vice-captain of his club.

In his first season as Hawks captain, Hodge was handed the opportunity in 2011 to show his true colours as the club's official on-field leader.

But the 2008 Norm Smith Medallist is averaging less than 18 possessions in five games.

"It's getting better. The more I play on it, the better it feels," Hodge told a press conference on Monday.

"I've been getting through games unscathed. I was able on the weekend to play about two-and-a-half quarters through the midfield which was promising."

Hodge's growing confidence is a dangerous sign for St Kilda, who face the fifth-placed Hawks at the MCG on Sunday.

Hawthorn kicked eight of the last nine goals on Friday night at AAMI Stadium to beat Port Adelaide by 32 points.

Hodge, who gathered 17 disposals, is taking comfort from the even spread of contributors.

Debutants Paul Puopolo and Isaac Smith, for example, and 20-year-old Liam Shiels who was one of Hawthorn's best players against Port.

But it won't be long before the skipper is also high on the list of best players.

The Hawks had the bye in round six but declined to take a weekend off, Hodge said.

"After the Geelong game (which the Cats won by 19 points), we did an extra session because we didn't like a few of the things that we saw on the tape," Hodge said.

"We had a look at the stuff we did not so good against Geelong and we've done plenty of work on that."

Big men David Hale (back) and Brent Renouf (hamstring) should be fit to play this week, Hodge said.

Rover Cyril Rioli, who suffered a hamstring strain against Geelong on June 11, is set to resume against St Kilda.

"From all reports he could have played," Hodge said of his 2008 premiership team-mate.

"We need him playing at his best when we come up against St Kilda, so we were just making sure he had the extra week off."

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