AFL 2022: Jack Gunston shines in Hawthorn’s intra-club match as return to action looms

Hawthorn veteran Jack Gunston is building his fitness as he eyes a return after sitting out last season with a crippling injury. But the news isn’t as good for Luke Bruest. The intel from Hawthorn’s intra-club match.

Hawthorn veteran Jack Gunston is building his fitness as he eyes an AFL return after a crippling back injury limited him to just a single game last year.

Gunston impressed in an intra-club match at Waverley Park on Thursday morning, primarily playing as a key forward.

The 30-year-old kicked a goal from a set shot outside 50m, took a few marks and appeared to move well around the ground in pleasing signs.

However, the Hawks’ coaching staff are yet to determine just what role the swingman will have in the side this year, having used Gunston at both ends of the ground in recent times.

Jack Gunston impressed in Hawthorn’s intra-club. Picture: Getty Images
Jack Gunston impressed in Hawthorn’s intra-club. Picture: Getty Images

“We’d like him to find his feet a bit,” Hawthorn assistant coach Chris Newman said.

“He’s one player who’s missed a lot of football, so we’ll put him in the position where we feel like he’s going to find his best form going into the year. We’re still working through what it looks like in terms of his role in the team, but that was the probably the most I’ve seen him train in terms of a block and I think he got through okay so that’s a good sign.”

The news on the injury front was not so good for crafty forward Luke Bruest, who suffered a suspected concussion during the first quarter of the match.

Breust was crunched in a marking contest and gingerly got to his feet, before being assessed by medical staff and taken out of the game.

Breust will enter AFL concussion protocols, sidelining him for at least the next 12 days and therefore ruling him out of a practice match against Collingwood in Morwell next Friday.

Silky midfielder-forward Chad Wingard (ankle) did some boxing on the boundary line during the intra-club match but remains hopeful of lining up against the Magpies.

“He’s trying to take it slow with his progression but he’s got it to the point now where we’re confident to get him back into some drills,” Newman said of Wingard.

“We’ll see how it goes next week but we certainly won’t be taking any risks at this time of year.”

THE STANDOUTS

The usual suspects had good games.

Tom Mitchell found plenty of the footy through the midfield, as did James Worpel.

Blake Hardwick and James Sicily were excellent down back and Dylan Moore was lively up forward.

Last year’s mid-season draftee, Jai Newcombe, looks set to take his game up another level this year after a good match on a wing and through the midfield.

Harry Morrison added some class on the outside all day, while Finn Maginness was hard-at-it in the contest.

Jacob Koschitzke and Mitch Lewis both had a presence as marking targets in attack.

Tom Mitchell in action during Hawthorn’s intra-club match. Picture: Getty Images
Tom Mitchell in action during Hawthorn’s intra-club match. Picture: Getty Images

MOVING THE MAGNETS

After Jonathon Ceglar’s departure to Geelong during last year’s trade period, the No. 1 ruck role is up for grabs.

A pair of developing 23-year-old’s are battling it out for that position, being Ned Reeves and Max Lynch.

The pair – who have played five and three AFL games respectively – went head-to-head in the ruck throughout the intra-club match.

Reeves had the better of the hit-outs but Lynch’s follow-up work caught the eye.

Sicily’s return from injury in defence will help free up Ben McEvoy and Gunston to spend more time forward this year.

Gunston is building his workload significantly after managing just one AFL game last year due to ongoing back issues.

RECRUIT, DRAFT WATCH

Last year’s No. 7 draft pick Josh Ward again impressed in Thursday’s intra-club clash and is on track for an early-season debut.

Ward was used primarily as an onballer for one team, alongside Tom Mitchell and James Worpel.

He also had some rotations onto a wing.

The Northern Knights product can run all day, is composed and clean by hand and foot and showed some good follow-up work.

Rookie draftee Ned Long also had some nice moments through the midfield and as a half-forward, including a long goal from 50m.

Collingwood recruit Lynch looks like being a player of the future in the ruck.

Originally published as AFL 2022: Jack Gunston shines in Hawthorn’s intra-club match as return to action looms

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