Crows blows as star cops repeat of gruesome injury; Dee in doubt for opener: AFL Track Watch


Adelaide may be without veteran midfielder Rory Sloane for Round 1 after being forced to undergo another surgery for a detached retina.

The 33-year-old had the same issue in 2021 and underwent surgery on Tuesday night after experiencing symptoms at training.

He’ll return to training to be assessed next week but missed four games after surgery the last time the issue occurred, and would be racing the clock for the season opener if that timeline is repeated.

Meanwhile promising young midfielder Jake Soligo badly rolled his ankle in a marking contest on Wednesday and was helped off the training track by trainers.

The Crows are hopeful he has avoided serious injury.


The early start to Melbourne’s season looks likely to cost Lachie Hunter a place in the side as the midfielder continues to struggle with a calf issue.

The former Bulldog has battled as his training loads have increased across the pre-season and it leaves him in doubt for the Opening Round clash with Sydney on March 7.

“It’s disappointing for Lach. He’s had a calf that’s nagged him a little bit,” Demons performance boss Alan Richardson said.

“As we’ve upped the load, he’s just struggled to be able to cope. Clearly then you’ve got to back off and that’s where it’s at right at the minute.

“He’d need a little bit of luck now (to play Opening Round), but the guys are pretty confident they’re on top of what the issue is.”

Hunter missed just one game for the Demons last year, his first after a move from the Kennel.

Meanwhile Christian Salem is close to a return to full training after a minor hamstring tweak, where he would join Bayley Fritsch (foot surgery) back at full fitness, while Angus Brayshaw is back in contact training and Harrison Petty’s training loads are increasing after a Lisfranc injury.

Fellow forwards Ben Brown (knee) and Tom Fullarton (hamstring) will miss the opening rounds.


Gold Coast has been dealt a pre-season injury blow, with top draftee Jed Walter to miss the start of the AFL season.

The Suns on Monday night confirmed AFL Media’s report to that club academy graduate Walter, who was selected with Pick 3 in last year’s draft, would be sidelined for up to eight weeks after breaking his collarbone during a training drill on Monday morning.

The 18-year-old will undergo surgery this week.

Despite being drafted as a key forward, there was a view prior to the draft Walter could’ve had an immediate impact at AFL level due to his well-built frame and genuine thirst for the physicality of the game.

Walter had made a promising start to his pre-season – and possible Round 1 selection push – until Monday’s setback.

However, the Suns have good key-position depth with Ben King, Levi Casboult and Jack Lukosius on the list.

Walter was one of four Suns academy graduates taken in last year’s draft by Gold Coast alongside Ethan Read, Jake Rogers and Will Graham.


Top North Melbourne draftee Colby McKercher seems destined for an early-season AFL debut.

McKercher, who was taken by the Kangaroos with Pick 2 in last year’s draft, has made an immediate impact since joining Arden St.

Asked by the club’s media team which young players had stood out to him this summer, Callum Coleman-Jones said: “Colby’s caught my eye – I think he’s caught everyone’s eye. He’s just so classy with the footy, quick, agile, good by foot.

“I really like Wil Dawson … aggressive, strong, not afraid to use his body.

“And I think Biggy (Nyuon) coming across from Richmond, he’s fitted in really well and bring a bit of flare to the backline.”

Coleman-Jones said there’d been “a lot of running this pre-season” under a new-look coaching group, who’s brought “a lot of energy and new ideas” to support Alastair Clarkson.


Hawthorn on-baller James Worpel insists every Hawks player, not just recruit Jack Ginnivan, has “a point to prove in 2024”.

Ginnivan was sensationally traded from Collingwood to Hawthorn during last year’s AFL exchange period. He and top draftee Nick Watson bolster a dangerous fleet of small forwards at the Hawks.

Asked if Ginnivan had a point to prove at his new club, Worpel told reporters: “All Hawthorn players have a point to prove.

“We finished 16th on the ladder and we all want to improve and keep winning games so I think all of us have got a little chip on our shoulder.

“But ‘Ginni’ has come in and he’s fitted in seamlessly and all the boys love him. He’s training really well and we’re excited to have him.”

As for Watson, Worpel said he could see the Eastern Ranges product playing early in the season.

“He’s got really good foot skills as well and he reads the game really well and he’s a natural footballer, obviously he’s gone pick five in the draft for a reason. So he’s got a lot of attributes that all stand up at AFL footy,” Worpel said.

“I think he hasn’t put a foot wrong and he’s training well so we’ll see how we go.”


Sydney co-captain Callum Mills has hit the training track in Coffs Harbour as he looks to accelerate his return from a bizarre pre-season shoulder injury.

Mills infamously damaged his rotator cuff during the Swans’ Mad Monday celebrations in September last year, ruling him out for possibly half of the 2024 season.

After two months of strength training and rehabilitation in the gym, Mills on Monday took part in several non-contact drills during Sydney’s first training session of its Coffs Harbour community camp.

“He’s one of the toughest people I’ve ever met and one of the best leaders I’ve ever met,” Swans teammate Isaac Heeney told reporters.

“What he’s done at such a young age to come through, this is just a hurdle, and it will make him a better player.

“He’s dominating his rehab and he’ll come back better and stronger.”

The Swans, who finished eighth last year, will have a match simulation on Wednesday.

“It’s ramping up quick, obviously starting two weeks earlier than we normally would,” Heeney said. “So, we’re starting match sim, we’re really nutting into some of the tweaks we’ve made to our game plan on the contest and work rate.

“We’ve got a young, driven group and the synergy is building.”


Richmond appears set on making Noah Balta a full-time forward.

While Balta, a 2020 premiership player, has pinch-hit inside forward 50 during his six seasons at the Tigers – he started the 2022 season there – he has predominantly as a key back under coach Damien Hardwick.

But new Tigers boss Adem Yze seems keen to switch Balta into the forward arc, playing deep in the goalsquare again during Richmond’s training session on Monday, per the Herald Sun.

Tom Lynch, who continues to work his way back from a foot injury, and new recruit Jacob Koschitzke are the Tigers’ other key forward options.

Balta’s move has also gained momentum after the improvement of top-10 draftee Josh Gibcus, who continues to impress on the track after missing all of the 2023 season due to a persistent hamstring injury.


Jeremy McGovern’s big pre-season continues, with the premiership Eagle exciting on-lookers in his club’s latest training session.

The West Australian reported McGovern, 31, took several strong intercept marks and laid a crunching tackle that impressed teammates.

The four-time All-Australian was one of several senior players who made an early return to training in November last year following West Coast’s wooden spoon in 2023.

Reigning best and fairest Tim Kelly covered the ground well as he continues to recover from the hamstring injury he suffered a fortnight ago.

There was a slight injury scare for West Coast on Monday when co-captain Liam Duggan limped from the track midway through the session, only for the Eagles to confirm he’d only sustained a corked leg.

First-round draftee Campbell Chesser didn’t train on Monday due to an ankle injury, although he’s expected to return to the track in the next few weeks, per The West Australian.

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