DEPLETED: Injuries rock Hawks before season starts

ColacFriday01Apr032APOLLO BAY has been rocked by injury and player unavailability on the eve of the 2016 season.

The Hawks will be without at least seven players for tomorrow’s clash against Birregurra, which will be full of momentum after last week’s come-from-behind Easter football win against Lorne.

Apollo Bay co-coach Craig Rippon said the club was rapt to secure former Wickliffe Lake Bolac footballer Tom Stephens, but the hard-nosed onballer fractured a foot at the weekend and will miss the first four to six weeks.

Stephens joined the Hawks from the same Mininera district club as fellow Bay recruits Jock Cameron and Chris Hilet.

“Tom will be a very good player for us but unfortunately he fractured his foot at the weekend when we were training at Ocean Grove and will be out for a while,” Rippon said.

“He played with Marty White at Geelong Amateur a few years ago,” he said.

Rippon said utility Mick Condon was likely to miss the first four weeks of the season as he continued his recovery from a knee reconstruction, defender Justin Robbins and forward Josh Cooper are out with travel, and centre half-back Jayden Fanning is out for two weeks with an ankle injury.

“We’ll be a bit under the pump in the first few weeks, we’ve got the top two sides and we’re a bit underdone, but we’ll still be having a crack,” Rippon said.

“The promising thing is we’ve got a fair few guys from the 17s that will play because we want to get games into the young guys,” he said.

“Dustin Walters will play this weekend, and Tyson Matthews, who’s another young guy, has returned to us from Lorne and will play this weekend.”

Winchelsea forward-onballer Jarrod O’Connor, Portarlington centre half-back Hayden Smith, and Colac Imperials young gun Liam Edge have also lodged clearances to the Hawks in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, Birregurra coach Ben Boseley said Saints midfielder Tom Cotton had crossed to VAFA club North Brunswick.

But he said key forward Tom McLean and defender Jack Melican were in the mix to return for the Saints.

“Tom’s living in Melbourne, so he’s not playing with us anymore,” he said.

“Jack didn’t get up to play last week and Tim McLean was away, so both those boys will be in contention for the game against Apollo Bay,” he said.

“It’s always good knowing you’ve got a couple of good players waiting in the wings.”

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