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AFL 2023 preseason: Lyon and St Kilda looking for ‘more than one gear’ in 2023

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With preseason well and truly underway, clubs and players are starting to ramp up their preparations for a big 2023 AFL season.

Coaches have planned heaps of running, ball drills and new game plans to implement over the next few months leading into the March start of the next campaign.

However, some players will have limited production during the summer due to recurring or new injuries.

Stay tuned to Sporting News to ensure you don’t miss any of the latest injury news.

Latest AFL preseason injury news

Lyon to add more chaos to St Kilda’s game style in 2023

Tuesday 20 Dec

St Kilda’s new coach, Ross Lyon (for the second time round) is keen to add more chaos and unpredictability to their game style in 2023 and beyond.

The Saints were lauded for their boring style that struggled to produce winning scores in the second half of the season, after an impressive 8-3 start.

Lyon’s second stint at St Kilda will attempt to breathe more facets to their game, with different avenues to goal, especially since Max King has gone down with a shoulder injury.

“You need more than one gear, certainly,” Lyon said.

“I think the trend now has been to go forward more quickly. The uncontested and control game is disappearing.

“There’s times you need it – either through injury or time of the game or you’re under pressure, but fundamentally that shape and control and uncontested mark game is (disappearing).

“We like to be a go-forward team, use our run, be a pressure team.

“I’ve never coached perfection; we like a bit of chaos and I think it will suit us, so I’m pretty excited about it.”

Duggan gives Eagle update

Tuesday 20 Dec

West Coast defender Liam Duggan has provided some insight into the club and how they’ve been tracking over the off season.

After a dismal 2022, the Eagles are keen to bounce back and put the year behind them.

Duggan also mentioned a few names that were “flying” ahead of the Christmas break.

“It’s a long list this year, which is great. This is my ninth pre-season now and I don’t think I’ve seen the boys come back with this much energy around their off-season and coming into the start of pre-season,” Duggan said.

“Jai Culley has really stood out. For a big frame he’s moving around the ground really well. Greg Clark, Connor West, Jamie Cripps – an old head – he’s flying.

“And a couple of boys who missed out last year in Tom Cole, Dom Sheed and Oscar Allen, those boys are really humming along.

“I think last year was taken pretty personally by everyone, to be honest.

“It’s given us great enthusiasm to bounce back from where we were last year. We don’t want to hang around down the bottom, so I think that’s the approach the boys have taken through our off-season.”

Port Adelaide update

Monday 19 Dec

Port Adelaide is excited by the off-seasons of two of their small forwards, with Orazio Fantasia and Junior Rioli making inroads into their comebacks next year.

Both were hindered by injury in 2022 but are keen to make an impact in 2023.

Fantasia – who didn’t play in 2022 – said he’s enjoyed the pre-season so far and hopefully it pays dividends.

“Obviously last year was not how I wanted it. Nobody goes into a season not wanting to play a game, especially without having a long-term injury,” Fantasia said.

“It was definitely frustrating but I wouldn’t change it. I learnt a lot as a person. I grew a lot and came back.

“I made a plan with the strength and conditioning guys Stuart Graham and Calvin Philp to make sure that when I came back, I was in good nick and could hit the ground running to get ready for 2023.”

Rioli also spoke glowingly about the Power and how welcoming they’ve been since he crossed over from West Coast.

“This week’s kind of made me feel a lot more comfortable around the boys,” Rioli said.

“Spending a week with them you get to see their personalities more and their mood swings and those kinds of things.

“I’ve been so welcome and it’s been one of the more enjoyable camps I’ve been on.

“Now I’m heading into the new year looking forward to getting back together with the boys and getting into games.”

Key forward Todd Marshall is also keen to keep the momentum going on his 2022 season, where he booted 45 goals.

“I want to be that consistent forward. I don’t want it to be a one-off year,” Marshall said.

“Coming back, I’ve got myself in a good position, I’m really clear on what my role is for the team and how to do that to the best of my ability so going into the season I’m really excited we’ve been able to add a few pieces to the forward line and get a few back in Orazio (Fantasia).

“The match play today was really fun with that forward group.”

Liam Henry looking to anchor down Docker spot

Monday 19 Dec

Fremantle’s Liam Henry has returned to the club bigger and stronger in a hope that he’d get regular games in Justin Longmuir’s side.

Been trialled in the backline and up forward, it seems Henry’s speed and good ball use could be used throughout the middle of the ground.

The departure of winger Blake Acres has opened up a position.

“The aim is to put on a few kilos and get stronger each year,” Henry said.

“So that was definitely my goal, going away and get fitter. Hopefully that’s worked out and I think I put a few kilos on from last year and I’m looking forward for the rest of the pre-season.

“The wing is my main focus at the moment, last year was my first introduction to playing wing in the AFL so I’m just trying to embed the role.”

Power youngsters cop setback; JHF back at training

Saturday 17 Dec

Port Adelaide’s new recruit Jason Horne-Francis is back running again after he had surgery on both legs to decompress the arteries behind the knees in October.

Despite being on light duties to start his preseason, the Power are confident he’ll be ready by round one.

However, youngsters Mitch Georgiades and Jase Burgoyne have undergone surgery which will interrupt their preparations.

Burgoyne fell awkwardly at training and hurt his right knee. Should be back in January.

Georgiades also had minor surgery to treat the syndesmosis in his left ankle.

Patience the key for Keays

Saturday 17 Dec

Adelaide’s Ben Keays underwent surgery to repair his AC joint and is yet to resume full training.

Speaking to the club, Keays – who experienced arguably his best season in 2022 – said it’s been difficult being on the sidelines thus far.

“It’s been a pretty tough one for me so far, I’ve been in rehab, still on the sidelines, which has been new for me,” Keays said.

“You see all the boys running around and training really well and you just want to be out there.

“I had my AC joint done but I also had some groin stuff for two thirds of the year, which got pretty bad towards the end (of the season).

“I had gone through the years and heard players talk about how tough rehab is and I never really had to experience it but now I’m living it.

“It’s hard, but I’ll just focus on recovery and try to get back.”

Zorko fit and firing ahead of 2023

Saturday 17 Dec

Brisbane captain Dayne Zorko has reportedly been tearing up the track and is priming himself for a big 2023.

Initially struggling with a lingering achilles issue, Zorko said he’s keen to put that behind him and hopefully help take the club to the decider.

“I’ve been working extremely hard on getting my achilles right,” Zorko said.

“It’s been bugging me for the best part of three years. We had an intense program that I had to be strict about and it’s meant I’ve been able to run for the first time in pre-season for a number of years.

“It’s been great for me and I’m hopeful it’ll hold me in good stead for next season.

“It’s certainly driving us (the squeeze to fit in the 22) to be better and ultimately, what will lead to a premiership cup so that’s what we’re striving towards and hopefully we’re in for a good season cause the competition’s hot.”

Hunt refreshed after move West

Wednesday 14 Dec

West Coast new recruit Jayden Hunt is feeling “very comfortable already” since crossing from Melbourne in the 2022 AFL trade period.

Hunt joined the Eagles as a free agent after 114 games for the Demons and believes that the move will be good for his career.

Only 27, the attacking defender is keen to return to what he does best: using his pace and dare to break open the game.

Hunt has enjoyed life as an Eagle thus far and is keen for 2023.

“Absolutely loving it. It’s been two weeks now so I’m settling a bit and getting to know my surrounds, all my teammates and coaches so much better. It’s been a great two weeks,” Hunt said.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how welcoming everyone is. It feels like a family club, so I’ve been welcomed in with open arms. It’s only been a couple of weeks and I feel very comfortable already.

“I saw this as a fresh opportunity, provide plenty of energy for me. West Coast in particular, obviously they were very disappointed this year but I see the list with such a scope for improvement and I’m really excited to be part of that.

“I think everyone is just really optimistic and excited. Most of the list is really healthy now, they came back really fit. The whole place has a positive spin, which is great.”

Jackson, O’Meara impressing in new colours

Wednesday 14 Dec

New recruits Luke Jackson and Jaeger O’Meara hasn’t let the change in location and colours stop them from impressing Fremantle.

Coach Justin Longmuir said the pair haven’t put a foot wrong since crossing over from Melbourne and Hawthorn and is excited to see what they’ll produce in 2023.

“Jaeger couldn’t have been more impressive to be honest,” Longmuir said, according to the club.

“He’s really keen to live the game plan and everything he’s done is done like a pro, whether that’s in the gym, out on the track with running or just his efforts and skill drills.

“He’s made a really good impression on everyone and he fills the need with Dave (Mundy) going out.

“We hope he can string some of his best footy together because it’s going to be a good attribute for us on and off the field.”

“Luke’s probably been the best performer over the last couple of sessions once we started getting into a bit more competitive stuff,” Longmuir said.

“That competitiveness and ability to win the ball at ground level, but also really compete with his pressure, has stood out.

“He’s taken a couple of nice marks at training as well on the end of some good ball movement.

“He’s been really impressive.”

Adelaide’s forward line starting to take shape

Wednesday 14 Dec

Riley Thilthorpe and prized recruit Izak Rankine are reportedly having big preseasons heading into Adelaide’s 2023 campaign.

The former has struggled to remain consistent in his first two seasons but has been a force throughout the summer at the Crows.

“The body’s in a much better place than last year,” said Thilthorpe according to the Herald Sun.

“I was smarter with how I planned the off-season.

“I didn’t work myself into the ground as much and now I’m flying on the track, so I’m really happy with where I’m at.

“Even coming to the track this year, I feel like I’m in a much better headspace physically and mentally to attack training.

“Being more confident, chest out, walking on my toes a bit more, trying to be a bit more of the man, backing myself in, flying at footies, backing my skills in.”

Rankine has also been impressive since crossing from the Gold Coast in training thus far and looks like spending more time through the midfield.

Collingwood update on De Goey, Adams and Moore

Tuesday 13 Dec’s Josh Gabelich has provided updates on three key Collingwood players facing interrupted preseasons.

Darcy Moore, Jordan De Goey and Taylor Adams have not had the best preparations heading into the 2023 season but the club is confident all will be raring to go come round one.

Moore was hospitalised with a bone infection (osteomyelitis) and Gabelich said the Pies were glad they caught the issue early.

“They’re really relieved at Collingwood. It’s actually quite a serious situation a bone infection, but they got onto it really quickly,” Gabelich told SEN.

“He spent some time in hospital and he’s back home at the moment. They won’t see him this side of the new year, but they expect him to get back into training after Christmas and after that break in January, but it remains a bit unclear as to when he will make a full recovery.

“No concern around Round 1, but they’re hopeful it’ll be straight after Christmas.”

“Taylor Adams is training away to the side going through running sessions. We haven’t seen him since that really gruesome groin injury against Geelong,” Gabelich said.

“He’s building up and they’re pretty happy with where he’s at.

“Jordan De Goey is the one we touched on. Just a little bit of concern there, so they went and got him fixed up last week with an arthroscope with his shoulder,” Gabelich said.

“That was the same game against Geelong in the final where he hurt his shoulder. They were hopeful a bit of rest in the off-season would have sorted it out, but he needed some shoulder surgery.”

Pat Lipinski and Brayden Maynard are also on track after their shoulder reconstructions.

Young Lion takes out 3km time trial

Monday 12 Dec

Brisbane’s Harry Sharp won the gruelling 3km time trial, pipping aerobic gun Hugh McCluggage and Zac Bailey.

Sharp has managed seven games in the past two seasons across the half back and is putting his best foot forward to join the super impressive team.

New additions Josh Dunkley and Will Ashcroft also dazzled in their first run in Lions colours, coming third and fourth to Eric Hipwood.

Hipwood won group two’s 3km time trial shortly after signing a monster six-year deal.

Wines’ knee worse than first thought

Sunday 11 Dec

Ollie Wines’ post-season surgery has discovered more of an issue than originally thought.

The 2021 Brownlow Medalist struggled in 2022 with a lingering knee issue that is being fixed over the offseason.

“I ended up having to get a little bit more done than they thought going in,” Wines told

“There was a bit more going on in terms of the structure of the actual leg bones and my knee joint.

“We thought it was a meniscus problem, and that was there, but there was also some other damage that was causing some discomfort.

“That’s repaired now, but it meant crutches and no walking for six weeks, then walking for six weeks, which was pretty frustrating.

“By the last week (on crutches) I was pretty emotional with it, and fed up. But I was able to get through it, which was the most important part of the rehab process.”

However, Wines is back running and is keen to put the injury behind him and focus on a big 2023.

Moore bad news for the Pies

Friday, 9 Dec

Darcy Moore is another Pie struck down as the club revealed he has been in hospital.

The star defender is battling a bone infection (osteomyelitis) and won’t be training for some time.

GM of Football Graham Wright spoke on Moore:

“Our main priority is Darcy’s health and we will continue to support him as he recovers at home from the infection,” Wright said.

“We are grateful that this was picked up early by medical staff and as such, we are not expecting any long-term issues.”

Young Bomber can’t catch a break

Friday, 9 Dec

Luckless Essendon defender Zach Reid has copped another setback in his bid for AFL footy.

Reid suffered a stress in his lower back and will be on a modified training program for the next few weeks.

GM of Performance Dan McPherson spoke about the 20-year-old.

“Zach has been impressive during the off-season without missing a session since players returned on November 21. He’s been training at a really high level but has shown slight discomfort in recent days. After consulting with the club’s high-performance team today, the club has decided to allow him the time to rest and recover with a modified program,” McPherson said.

“He is a natural talent with elite athleticism and his professionalism will give him the best chance to recover. The club hopes to build him back up when the team returns in January.”

Adam Simpson provides update on Eagles’ injury

Thursday, 8 Dec

West Coast coach Adam Simpson has provided some intel on some of his players’ injuries, according to SEN.

“Oscar Allen, Tom Cole, Dom Sheed, Liam Duggan, Campbell Chesser, all these guys have had a really interrupted 12 months with significant injuries,” Simpson said.

“So how we get those guys back to AFL. It’s not as easy as ‘they’ve had a year off they should be fine’, we need to start overlaying football.

“They’re all really fit and gone away and got right from a fitness point of view. The next step is to overlay the football component which in this day and age is harder than you think.

“They go that hard, they go turbo when they train and trying to get some of these guys that haven’t tackled anyone in 12 months back into the program is our newest challenge.

“You won’t see them at every session, it’s about managing them so come February they’re up and about.”

Suns leaving nothing to chance for King return; Gold Coast update

Thursday, 8 Dec

Gold Coast are leaving nothing to chance in the hope Ben King can return with a bang.

The club is seeking out world-renowned reconditioning specialist Bill Knowles to assist with King’s return after he suffered an ACL injury on the eve of the 2022 season.

Knowles – from the US – has a long list of sporting athletes that he’s worked with including Tiger Woods, Andy Murray and Christian Petracca.

Lachie Weller and Connor Budarick are also on the mend from their ACL injuries from throughout the year.

The club announced Weller is turning heads from his injury and is likely to join the main group before Christmas.

Budarick is expected to commence full training in 2023.

Richmond update

Wednesday, 7 Dec

Richmond’s Dylan Grimes, Ivan Soldo, Jack Graham and Sam Banks have been kept a close eye on by new Physical Performance Manager Luke Meehan.

Grimes (hamstring) – “He’s been really good. He returned on Monday and he’s in great shape. He’s already joining in on skills and we’re looking to have a really healthy Dylan next year, everything’s been positive so far.”

Soldo (wrist surgery) – “He’s going really well. He’s already joining in on non-contact skills and is looking to be really fit and ready to be in full training in January.”

Graham (toe surgery) – “Jack’s a victim of his own toughness. He battled all year with his toe issue and got to the end of the season and we gave it a rest in the hope that it would improve. We found out at the start of November that things weren’t improving and we needed an intervention, and so he had some surgery. That’s gone really well from all reports, he’s already out of the moon boot and he’ll look to start running in January and he’ll have a big January/February looking to build into games at the start of the season.”

Banks (hip surgery) – “He’s going really well, he’s already back into almost full training. There’s no issues there and it’s good to have a fit Sam around the Club.”

Bulldogs update

Wednesday, 7 Dec

The wounded Western Bulldogs has been referred to the club due to the injuries held by Adam Treloar, Sam Darcy, Toby McLean and Rhylee West.

Treloar underwent surgery on his ankle and will be on limited duties before Christmas.

Darcy is also tending to a knee issue that has prevented him from training the past fortnight, while West (knee) is aiming to be back at full training in the next month.

McLean had surgery on a hand injury he suffered at training and will likely join the main group in 2023.

Andrew Mackie on Tom Hawkins injury

Wednesday, 7 Dec

Geelong’s Tom Hawkins recently underwent surgery on his foot, despite playing through the finals.

As a result, Hawkins will be on a modified training program for majority of the preseason according to list manager and former teammate Andrew Mackie.

“He’s still got the (moon)boot going on at the minute,” Mackie said on SEN.

“He’s really good. He’s looking good, the big fella.

“It’s obviously not ideal having surgery for anyone, but he’s had such a large workload over a number of years.

“With customised training programs, the fact that the can actually take some time off and look after some other bits of his body where rehabbing his foot isn’t the worst thing.

“Hopefully the foot does its thing and heals ok which my understanding is it seems to be ok.”

Stringer struggling 

Tuesday, 6 Dec

Essendon’s Jake Stringer is struggling to get back to full fitness due to a groin complain.

The ‘package’ is and will be on a modified training program until 2023 but is doing ‘okay’ according to GM of Performance Daniel McPherson.

Yeah Jake’s going okay, he finished the season with some groin issues and he’s worked his way through that over the off-season,” McPherson said on SEN.

“What has been impressive about Jake is he was here a lot earlier than he needed to be or required to be. His first official day he was due back was yesterday, but we’ve seen him regularly over the last three or four weeks.

“He’s putting in some work to get himself up to speed, obviously we don’t need him playing in the next three or four weeks, we’re looking at a bit of a longer game for Jake.

“He’s got a bit of work to do but he’s progressing pretty nicely at the moment.”

St Kilda left with a King-sized problem

Tuesday, 6 Dec

St Kilda’s Max King suffered a bad shoulder injury at training on Tuesday and is expected to miss months.

Luckily for the Saints is that King may also miss the first few rounds pending a speedy recovery due to the timing of the injury.

However, new coach Ross Lyon could not afford to lose their star goal kicker and will now need to look at other creative sources for scores.

The 22-year-old has been a key pillar in St Kilda’s forward line and will be sorely missed throughout the preseason and early stages of 2023, explained Football Boss Geoff Walsh.

“Obviously this is an extremely disappointing setback for Max,” Walsh said.

“He had come back for pre-season in really great condition, which is a credit to his professionalism; a trait we know will stand him in good stead as he works through his rehab over the next few months.

“The recovery and rehabilitation period for this injury will be a number of months, which we will provide updates on as he progresses through his rehab program – suffice to say his return to play will not be until the season is well underway.”

De Goey down

Monday, 5 Dec

Collingwood matchwinner Jordan De Goey underwent shoulder surgery that he carried through the 2022 finals series.

Despite displaying little issues with it during September, the Pies thought it’d be wise to nip the injury in the bud early before any ongoing issues come up.

GM of Football Graham Wright expects De Goey to be back and raring in the new year.

“Jordan had been managing that right shoulder towards the end of our campaign and while we have given it every opportunity to settle over the off season, after consulting with a specialist in recent days, it was determined a clean-up is the best course of action for him,” Wright said.

“At this stage, we expect Jordan to be back to full training by January.”

Carlton update

Friday, 2 Dec

Carlton’s Sam Walsh hasn’t had a successful start to his preseason, facing ongoing back issues that has ruled him out since the round 23 loss.

Walsh is being monitored closely by staff but is on a strict management plan that will not include skills training this side of Christmas.

Marc Pittonet is progressing well from his PCL reconstruction 13 weeks ago and is running again, working on his conditioning.

George Hewett’s back surgery is in the past (14 weeks ago) and will aim to join the main group in January as is Lachie Fogarty (back).

Matthew Kennedy (foot) and Corey Durdin (shoulder) have also joined the main group following their injuries.

McPherson faces delayed preseason

Friday, 25 Nov

Adelaide’s Andrew McPherson underwent knee surgery and will face a delayed preseason.

Following a PCL injury in the SANFL, McPherson will be spending time before Christmas tending to his knee in rehab.

The 23-year-old is expected to be up and running within the next four to six weeks.

Coffield nearing full fitness, Hayes not far behind 

Thursday, 24 Nov

St Kilda defender Nick Coffield is honing in on full fitness as he recovers from a knee reconstruction that ruled him out of the 2022 season.

The 23-year-old is setting his sights on a big 2023 but knows there is still plenty of work to be done, according to the club.

“I’m almost fully back with the group. I’m doing some drills now, so it is coming along pretty well. I’m not doing contact yet, but it is all on track and on time so far,” Coffield said.

“If all goes to plan, January is when I’ll be back with the group completely. By the time we start match sim, I should be good to go.”

Jack Hayes also suffered the same ACL injury but in round six against GWS and is on the mend as well.

Sloane back on track

Monday, 21 Nov

Adelaide veteran Rory Sloane is slowly but surely recovering from an ACL injury that kept him to four games in 2022.

The Crows returned to training in November and are keen to improve on their 14th placed finish.

Performance manager Darren Burgess said that Sloane will be looked at cautiously pre-Christmas and will try get him right for the start of 2023.

“He’s looking good and probably could’ve done some of the drills, but we’ll take it slowly, especially in the pre-Christmas period,” Burgess said.

“He’s also put on some good size and he’s in a great position right now to tackle most of the pre-season.

“We will certainly be cautious with him… but at this stage, he’s doing everything right to best prepare himself for Round One.”

Giant update

Thursday, 17 Nov

GWS defender Sam Taylor underwent wrist surgery recently, an injury that he has battled with for some time.

Despite notching up his maiden AA blazer and Giant best-and-fairest in 2022, Taylor is likely to be on a modified training program while his wrist heals.

The 23-year-old is expected to resume full training in the new year.

Lachie Whitfield is also on a similar return timeline to that of Taylor, having tended to an ankle injury.

The 28-year-old had surgery and will be looking to return to his best in 2023.

Brent Daniels and Conor Stone have also been overseas to America to fix their troubling hamstring issues.


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