K rock Football

Bourke blow for Lions

Leopold star Nick Bourke in action against Newtown & Chilwell. (krockfootball.com.au Image/Al Packer)

LEOPOLD looks set to be without star half-back Nick Bourke until after the mid-season bye after suffering ankle ligament damage in Sunday’s Pride Cup win over Newtown & Chilwell.

Bourke, who has been a key to the Lions’ 7-1 opening to 2018, will miss this week’s clash against South Barwon, as well as meetings with fellow premiership contender St Joseph’s and perennial finalist Bell Park.

Coach Guy Morphet says the former Geelong rookie had been flourishing in his new role after spending the previous three years predominantly on a wing and in the midfield.

“He’s an exceptional reader of the football, Nick. The run-and-carry he gives us off half back, he really sets up a lot of our attacking drive,” Morphet said.

“We spoke to him at the start of the year about that role and he embraced it, and he’s actually been really good at it.

“His first 6-7 games have been as good as anybody else in the side.”

In better news, Leopold will be boosted by the return of Jye Walker, who made a solid return from injury in the reserves last week, and key defender Jayden McHenry after he missed the win over the Eagles with a concussion.

Morphet says Walker was disappointed to have to return via the reserves – just his second match at 12 o’clock in the last decade.

“But we’ve set a really solid precedent this year with players coming back from injuries,” he said.

“If they’ve had two or three weeks off, the expectation is they’ll come back through the early game.

“We did the same with our captain (Sam Hughes), we did the same with Jai Thompson earlier in the year, and that message will be the same with every player.”

Twitter: @tom_king79