Three-time premiership star Jack Gunston is poised to return from injury to bolster a Hawthorn side chasing consecutive wins for the first time this AFL season against St Kilda.
Gunston had back surgery in December but has trained strongly over the past fortnight and completed the Hawks’ light training session at Waverley Park on Friday.
The 29-year-old adds experience to the forward line alongside versatile Tim O’Brien and emerging talls Jacob Koschitzke and Mitch Lewis.
“We’ve been looking forward to (Gunston’s) return for some time and if it happens to be this week then that will be a welcome addition to our side,” Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said on Friday.
“He’s a very experienced player and gives our side a lot of polish and a lot of flexibility too.
“We’ve got a pretty young forward line and they’re emerging quite well for us, those young guys.
“But just having some experience and support with Jack’s presence there will be enormous assistance to those guys and our team.
Clarkson has been pleased with his side’s ability to weather storms in wins over Adelaide and Essendon this season but is looking for more consistency in their performance against St Kilda.
“There’s faith that we’re never out of a game,” he said.
“Nearly every game we’ve had (this season) we’ve had to fight back from a period of inconsistency when we’ve just been unable to compete for long enough.
“We’re pleased that we’re putting ourselves back in a position to fight out a game but we’re disappointed in the first instance that we’ve allowed consecutive goals for them to get ahead.”
St Kilda and Hawthorn will compete for the 22nd annual Blue Ribbon Cup, honouring the courage and sacrifice of all Australian police officers and those who have fallen in the line of duty.