K rock Football

Hawks won’t rush Garth return

Drysdale forward Jarrod Garth. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

DRYSDALE spearhead Jarrod Garth will ramp up his recovery from a severe knee injury when the Hawks return to training on Thursday night.

The former Geelong rookie, who turns 36 later this month, missed the 2021 season after suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and a bone fracture below the knee during match simulation at training in February.

However, new Drysdale co-coach Ben Carmichael said the club is willing to be patient, and Garth’s return to the field will likely be in May.

“We’d love to see him out there every week, but we think we’ve got some pretty good depth through that forward line,” Carmichael said.

“With (James) Breust, and (Mat) Hebbard, and (Billy) Beardsell, and Tommy Ruggles, and Ben Fennell, those guys are going to be playing up forward.

“Garthy’s irreplaceable because he’s that big key forward, but we think we’ve got plenty of avenues to goal without having Jarrod down there.”

Carmichael remains confident key defender Tev Nofi will have shaken off the lingering effects of an ankle injury that limited him to just four matches in 2021.

During his rehabilitation, the 2019 best-and-fairest has been working with former Geelong doctor Drew Slimmon.

“Tev’s doing everything he can to try and get it right,” Carmichael said.

“He sought our Drew, who is fantastic, and he’s been trying a few different things with him.

“I reckon Drew will be able to get him up and running.”

At St Joseph’s, coach Paul Carson has earmarked young ruckman Tom Zampatti to fill the void left by best-and-fairest winner Henry Walsh’s departure.

Zampatti’s 2021 season was almost over before it began after rupturing his ACL in the opening minutes of the Round 1 loss to Colac at Central Reserve.

Carson says the 21-year-old is on track for the opening round meeting with the Tigers at Drew Oval.

“He was in pretty quick to get his surgery done – well before mid-last year – and his rehab has been sensational,” Carson said.

“He said to me he feels better than before he did his knee. It’s forced him to strengthen his core and work muscles that he’s never really worked on before.

“He’s well ahead of schedule, and he’s really keen to take the bulk of the ruck work; he’s really looking forward to that challenge with Henry moving on.”

However, former captain Kieren Paliouras won’t be seen in 2022 as he recovers from his own knee issues.

Carson confirmed the 29-year-old, who underwent surgery in mid-2021, will take a year off with the intention of returning in 2023.

Werribee Centrals hope to see talented young defender Chad Buck line up in the opening round clash with reigning minor premier Inverleigh.

Buck suffered a ruptured ACL in the controversial clash with Bannockburn at Galvin Park on May 1.

However, teammate Daryl Chesterman is more likely to be a mid-season return from his knee reconstruction.

The talented Tito Nyawela has retired after a number of injuries impacted on his work commitments.