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The Age

Dunstall in line to play opener

Author: ANTHONY MITHEN and GREG DENHAM, CHARLES HAPPELL
Date: 25/03/1997
Words: 448
          Publication: The Age
Section: SPORT
Page: 8
The man who bears the biggest burden for Hawthorn, Jason Dunstall, is set to play in the opening round despite having a knee reconstruction at the end of last season.

Remarkably, if Dunstall plays against St Kilda on Saturday night, he will not have missed a premiership match after damaging his knee in the qualifying final loss to Sydney last year.

But Dunstall's imminent return was offset yesterday when wingman Darren Kappler had a groin operation. He could miss the first 10 rounds.

Kappler, who damaged his groin a fortnight ago, could be one of a number of senior players missing on Saturday night, along with Chris Langford, Ray Jencke, Shane Crawford and Paul Salmon.

Dunstall yesterday said he was a good chance to be picked for the senior match after playing a half in the reserves last Friday night.

"I'm a rough chance to play this week. Obviously, I'm not going to play unless all our medical people, the physios and match committee, are 100 per cent with me playing," he said.

Dunstall said last Friday's hit-out had given him added confidence that his knee would stand up to senior football.

Hawthorn football manager John Hook said last night that a bone scan would today reveal the extent of damage to Crawford's ankle.

Jencke (groin) is expected to miss several rounds and the availability of Salmon, who also has groin strain, will depend on a fitness test later this week.

GEELONG forward Gary Ablett is expected to announce this morning that he will play on this season after making it through the final few weeks of the pre-season without any knee complications, but with a renewed zest to play.

Former captain Garry Hocking will tonight front the AFL Tribunal after yesterday being charged with allegedly striking Carlton's Matthew Hogg with an open hand to the face during the first quarter of last Friday night's Ansett Cup grand final at the MCG.

SYDNEY coach Rodney Eade confirmed yesterday that full-forward Tony Lockett, who is recovering from a groin operation, would not be risked in Saturday night's match against West Coast in Perth.

ALL-AUSTRALIAN midfielder Craig Lambert, who is battling a thigh problem, is rated a 50-50 chance to play for the Brisbane Lions against Adelaide on Sunday.

CHARLES HAPPELL reports that North Melbourne reserves player Danny Stevens had to be carried from the field at Arden Street last night after damaging his ankle during a routine drill.

Stevens, 20, who played just one senior match last year, was last night thought to have a badly sprained ankle, but will have undergo X-rays today. The Roos' list is already down to 38 players.

 
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