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The Age

Dunstall: hope lives here

Date: 29/06/1998
Words: 791
          Publication: The Age
Section: SPORT
Page: 3
Hawthorn appears more hopeful than realistic that champion full-forward Jason Dunstall will play again this season, but the Hawks are resigned to him not playing next year.

Dunstall snapped his right clavicle (collarbone) against Carlton at Optus Oval on Saturday and was yesterday too sore to travel to Bendigo with teammates for a supporters' commitment.

Hawthorn physiotherapist Barry Gavin yesterday predicted Dunstall was a chance to play in the final home-and-away fixture against Fremantle at Waverley Park, but that optimism is not shared by doctors at several other clubs.

Gavin said Dunstall would have his shoulder in a special brace for several weeks and that he could not start running for at least three to four weeks. "It will start to heal in about 10 days, but it will be brittle for several months," Gavin said.

Because of the nature of Dunstall's clean break, doctors at other clubs agreed that it would be extremely risky to play within eight weeks. "We would normally recommend 10 weeks off," one club doctor said. "It would be different if it was a hairline fracture, maybe just six or seven weeks. But a clean fracture where the bone overlaps takes a lot longer."

Hawthorn coach Ken Judge yesterday said that while he was not confident of Dunstall playing on after this season, he would attempt to convince him to do so.

"We've got to do some serious work to convince him to play next year," Judge said. "He's still our captain, he's still a very good player and a valuable contributor.

"He may well be thinking, do I really want to finish my career like this?"

After kicking his 52nd goal for the year, and his 1252nd in a career spanning 14 seasons, Dunstall twisted and fell in a collision with Carlton's full-back Stephen Silvagni.

He landed on his right shoulder early in the second quarter and almost simultaneously, Silvagni landed on top of him, which forced Dunstall's shoulder into the ground and his collarbone just gave way.

The 33-year-old Dunstall is just 48 goals short of breaking Gordon Coventry's 61-year-old league career record of 1299 goals.

While not making their feelings public, Hawthorn officials yesterday conceded that Dunstall would probably announce his retirement this year, just over a year since he underwent his second knee reconstruction.

Optus Oval was the ground where he wrecked his knee last year against the same opposition, resulting in a total reconstruction and 10 months on the sidelines.

After last season's knee reconstruction in May, Dunstall did not decide on his future until February this year when he signed a one-year deal with the Hawks.

Hawks' rookie Trent Croad is likely to be played at full-forward this Sunday against Adelaide at Football Park. Croad played in defence in the reserves on the weekend, but is likely to be recalled in place of Dunstall.

Western Bulldogs prime mover Jose Romero will today have X-rays to determine the extent of damage to a nagging foot injury.

Romero initially hurt his foot against Adelaide in round 11, and he was unable to take the field after half-time against St Kilda on Saturday after aggravating the problem in the second term.

A scan taken several weeks ago revealed no bone damage, but Bulldogs officials are concerned that something may have been overlooked.

The state-of-origin squad member has been playing with the assistance of painkilling injections lately and remains in doubt for Saturday's Optus Oval clash with Melbourne.

Leon Cameron will miss another week because of a thigh strain, while centre half-back Craig Ellis was a late withdrawal from the reserves game on Saturday. Ellis has missed seven of the past eight rounds because of an ankle problem.

Football manager Paul Armstrong said Ellis was "not quite right" last weekend, but he would be available this week for either the senior or reserves team.

North Melbourne ruckman Corey McKernan is expected to be available against St Kilda at Waverley Park on Saturday, despite spending most of the second half on the bench on Friday night against the Bombers.

North doctor Harry Unglik yesterday said he expected McKernan to be available as he rested as a precaution because of back-related hamstring soreness. "Corey could have gone back on if the situation warranted," Unglik said.

Brett Allison could resume from a knee problem in the reserves this week, while Unglik said John Longmire was on target to resume in round 16 after hernia surgery.

Essendon yesterday declared Michael Long suffered nothing other than blurred vision against North on Friday night after after receiving a knock to the head.

Andrew Ukovic remains doubtful this week after straining his groin in the seconds, while Sean Denham got through his comeback match unscathed in the reserves. Denham, who has been troubled by a back problem, played just over half a game and will play one more before being considered for a senior recall.

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