Gardiner can be AFL X-factor: coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gardiner can be AFL X-factor: coach

Roger Vaughan 01/09/2011 08:47:53 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda assistant coach Steven King rates ruckman Michael Gardiner as a potential X-factor in the upcoming AFL finals series.

Gardiner, 32, was recalled for his first senior game this season in Saturday night's must-win game against Carlton.

After taking months to recover from a persistent knee injury, Gardiner had soft-tissue problems.

Only a fortnight ago, a minor hamstring injury set back his comeback.

But Gardiner impressed in the AFL last weekend and he will rejoin the senior team for what could be his football swansong.

A newspaper report last Friday said the former West Coast ruckman would retire at the end of the season.

"'Gardy' is that real X-factor and he's such a terrific talent and person around the club," King said.

"You'd love to see him get back and from what he's been through (with) this injury, it's been a credit to him to get himself in the shape he's in at the moment."

King and Gardiner were a formidable ruck duo for the Saints when they dominated the 2009 season and narrowly lost the grand final to Geelong.

Ben McEvoy has shouldered most of the ruck duties this season as he has continued to develop impressively.

King said on Thursday he was unaware of whether Gardiner would continue beyond this season.

"For Gardy ... he thought just to get the knee right, which he has," King said.

"He's had a couple of soft-tissue hiccups along the way, but he's pretty upbeat and saying he's feeling the best he (has) for a couple of years.

"I don't think he's looking any further forward than week-to-week and see what happens from there."

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