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Demons hope to welcome back 'Aussie'

Roger Vaughan 11/07/2011 07:02:43 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne coach Dean Bailey is growing more optimistic that the Demons can convince small forward Austin Wonaeamirri to return to the AFL.

The Demons granted Wonaeamirri leave in May to return to his Tiwi Island home, following the deaths of his father and Richmond great Maurice Rioli.

The Demons will visit Darwin later this week for the Saturday night clash against Port Adelaide and during the trip they will meet with Wonaeamirri to discuss his football future.

"Hopefully we can get some clarity out of Aussie about it, but as the game has got closer, I think he's finding the opportunity to come back and play AFL footy becoming stronger and stronger," Bailey said.

"Probably in the last week and a bit, he's shown an indication he's almost fulfilled his requirements when he went back to Tiwi.

"There is great pressure on Aussie from Tiwi to perform at the AFL level, because he lost his father and also the pressure with Maurice as well.

"He's starting to come to grips with that, which was really part of the reason for going back and re-connecting."

Wonaeamirri, 22, played five games earlier this season for a career total of 31.

Bailey wryly observed that Wonaeamirri probably had not kept himself in top physical condition during his break.

Even if the small forward decides to return to the Demons, he is unlikely to play in the AFL this season.

"He's been hunting and fishing and doing all the stuff we've asked him to do," Bailey said.

"Knowing Aussie, he'd be doing a little bit, but I'd be lying if I said he'd been training 24-7.

"We'll see how he is - just in some of the things he's been saying recently, it gives us the opportunity to get in front of him and really plan his future."

But fellow indigenous player Aaron Davey, another Top End star, is desperate to return from a knee injury against the Power.

"All of a sudden his training has been ramped up and he trained pretty well this morning," Bailey said on Monday.

"He's getting fitter and fitter, so he'd probably be in calculation, but still 50-50 I think."

Bailey admitted he would have preferred to play this game before last weekend's bye.

But he noted the players are motivated to come back hard after the heavy round-15 loss to Melbourne.

"We've had to cool our heels for a week and a bit," Bailey said.

"Last week's game is still sitting there ... we need to answer those questions and the best way to do it is on Saturday night."

While Port handled the sticky Darwin conditions much better in their round-10 win over Richmond, Melbourne beat the Power by a point there last season.

"It's really important we get a run up there on Thursday, to get used to the conditions, which are obviously a bit unique at this time of year," Bailey said.

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