Bailey takes next step with AFL return - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bailey takes next step with AFL return

Rob Forsaith 22/05/2011 07:16:28 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn ruckman Max Bailey overcame a head knock in his long-awaited return to the AFL as he successfully took the next step in a stalled career.

Luckless Bailey, who has endured three knee reconstructions after being drafted by the Hawks in 2005, was playing in just his seventh AFL match on Sunday when the Hawks strolled to a 46-point win over Sydney.

Bailey outgunned in-form Swans ruckman Shane Mumford for much of the contest, but the script didn't go entirely to plan.

The 24-year-old was substituted off after a heavy knock late in the third quarter that left him dazed.

Bailey was vomiting soon after the blow, but allayed fears there was any serious damage.

"I was just a bit dizzy, as the rule is you can't do much about it ... which is unfortunate," Bailey said.

"I had my host family watching, I'm originally from WA, a couple of their kids, a few mates and my girlfriend were all here ... and they were all a little bit stressed (after the collision).

"It's been a while, about a year-and-a-half since the last one, so it was just good to get through a game again and have a bit of fun."

Bailey's approach is easy to understand considering just how much damage his anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) have copped.

The 206cm giant ruptured his right ACL in the 2007 pre-season, only to sustain the same injury after just 10 minutes with Box Hill in 2008.

He returned to the AFL in 2009, only to rupture his left ACL against Essendon.

Despite his past form with injuries, Bailey maintained there were no mental demons when he ran onto the SCG.

"I guess the first couple of games with Box Hill in the VFL were about survival, and then after that I really tried to put some good performances in," he said.

"Now it's just about playing footy which is good."

Bailey's return was timely for Hawthorn, with David Hale (knee) recently joining Brent Renouf (hamstring) on the sidelines.

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson praised Bailey, whose clinical tap work was key to the Hawks winning the hitout count 45-36.

"I thought he was terrific, against Mumford early in the game in particular," Clarkson said.

"He's had a tough journey, hopefully it's the start of something special for the bloke."

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