AFL 2023: Jacob Hopper, Tom Lynch, Mitch Lewis ACL, Peter Wright calf injury, Essendon news,

Two key Tigers, including the appearance of a big off-season signing, will be right after a delayed pre-season for the opener against Carlton. Check out all the preseason injury news here.

Richmond rookie Jacob Hopper is close to full fitness after his 2022 season was ruined by a persistent knee injury.

Hopper only played seven games for Greater Western Sydney last year after being sidelined for four months.

Still, the 25-year-old midfielder barely missed the mark his first pre-season at Punt Rd.

“He’s been able to do almost the entire training block,” Richmond assistant coach Andrew McQualter said.

“He’s doing a bit less on one of the training days, but for most of the pre-season he’s been able to do all the work and he’s looked good.”

Richmond key forward Tom Lynch missed Thursday’s main training session again as he continues to recover from foot surgery before Christmas.

“Lynchey hasn’t worked out yet, but he’s really developing his running,” McQualter said.

“Hopefully in the next few weeks he will be back in training and in good shape.

“He’s had enough preseasons to get it together quickly.”

Former Geelong half-forward Quinton Narkle continues to train with the Tigers in his bid for a rookie spot during the pre-season supplementary selection period.

“He’s had a great campaign with us,” McQualter said.

“He joined us two weeks before Christmas and he’s been able to really dedicate himself over the break and lose weight and get in shape where he’s doing really well. He definitely raised his hand.”

Richmond will face Carlton in the first round on March 16.

Injury coverage. The Hawks gun will miss Round 1

One of Hawthorn’s leading forwards is facing a season-long delay after injuring his knee in training earlier this week.

Scans have confirmed young key forward Mitch Lewis suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in training on Monday, which is not expected to require surgery but will take some time to recover.

“We will be monitoring Mitch’s progress closely over the coming weeks,” Hawthorn chief medical officer Liam West said.

“He will certainly spend some time on the sidelines and at this stage we expect him to miss Round 1.

“Even though it’s the same knee he hurt last season, it’s an unrelated injury.”

Lewis was the Hawks’ second-leading goaltender last season with 37 big goals, trailing only veteran Luke Brust (40 goals).

His strong scoring record came despite playing just 15 games when hamstring and knee injuries took hold.

A breakout season saw Lewis finish sixth in Hawthorn’s best and fairest tally.

The Hawks host arch-rivals Essendon at the MCG on March 19, followed by games against Sydney, North Melbourne and Geelong in the opening month of the season.

B&F winner’s injury details revealed

– Jay Clarke

Essendon say key forward Peter Wright can return to training next week after injuring his calf on Wednesday.

Wright walked off the ground midway through the Bombers’ game simulation session, complaining of calf pain to club doctors.

But an Essendon spokesman said on Wednesday the problem was only minor and could only keep the 2022 best and fairest out for a small number of training sessions.

It is hoped he can return next week after the Bombers return from a mandatory five-day break this weekend, pending further assessment.

It’s a big relief for Essendon, which has already lost rookie Sam Weidemann to a quad problem and James Stewart to a foot problem. The couple remains in rehab.

The team’s main striker Harry Jones was also on light duty on Wednesday as he returned from an ankle injury.

Jones could also return to main training next week.

Top draft pick Elia Tsatas also faces at least two months out after tearing his meniscus in practice last week.

Wright is one of the Bombers’ most important players after a career-best year in attack last season, leading Essendon’s forward line with 53 goals.

He is expected to be available when Essendon train for practice games next month.

The Bombers are looking to improve their link-forward and goalscoring options next season with the return of Anthony Macdonald-Tipungwuti from retirement.

Moore breaks silence on infection, Captain of the Pies

– Rebecca Williams

Collingwood star defender Darcy Moore is confident he will be fit to play in round one as he opened up about the bone infection that landed him in hospital late last year.

Speaking for the first time the infection that delayed his start to preseason, The Magpies captain candidate said he was relieved to be back on track and building his training program after a “difficult few months”.

Moore resumed running for the first time during training last week after being diagnosed with osteomyelitis, an inflammation of the bone.

The 26-year-old revealed the infection was discovered after he experienced “irregular pain” when he started training in the off-season.

Moore said he was lucky the infection was caught early and treatment went smoothly.

“I’ve had a pretty smooth comeback the last few weeks since we’ve been back this year, so I’m just happy to be back running and moving and kicking with my teammates,” Moore said Monday.

“It’s an interesting time for me after a few months. (I’m) building really well, the physios, the medical team and the conditioning team are all taking really good care of me and have a really solid plan to come back.

“It was obviously a bit unusual, probably rare. It was a bit of a bummer to get through.

“But luckily the medical team and staff at the hospital were really diligent and we were able to get a really early diagnosis that was really accurate and then the treatment went pretty smoothly as it could have.

“I’m very relieved and happy to be out of hospital and to run a few laps again in training, I feel good.

“Obviously, spending time in the hospital is never fun…having health problems is never fun.”

Moore said he hoped to build on a solid pre-season block of football training as he targeted the Magpies’ round one clash against Geelong at the MCG.

“(I’m) running and starting to develop agility as well as football moves, so jumping and cutting and things like that at high speed,” Moore said.

“That’s something that I’m going to slowly build over the next couple of weeks and get it all together and get a solid football block, hopefully by pre-season and ready to go for the season.”

“I am confident (for the first round). I’m feeling really good so far, but it’s still early days and more than anything (I’m) just happy to be moving again and back around the boys.”

Moore’s comments came as Collingwood began a three-day pre-season training camp in Lorne on Monday.

The All-Australian backman is considered one of the leading contenders to replace Scott Pendlebury as Collingwood’s next captain, along with Taylor Adams and Jeremy Howe.

Moore worked alongside Adams and Howe as one of Pendlebury’s three deputies last season when he was first appointed vice-captain.

As the son of club great and former Collingwood captain Peter, Moore admitted it would be “a nice sentimental thing” if he followed in his father’s footsteps and was named captain.

But Moore was asked on Monday about his desire for the role.

“Obviously, it’s something that’s been talked about a lot and we’re as excited as anyone about what the future holds for the team’s leadership,” Moore said.

“Obviously, there are a few of us who have some experience in the team now and some experience leading the team in the lead group.

“You develop really close bonds and a lot of trust between those older guys…. I think for us internally it’s a little bit more about the collective of the senior guys on the team.

“You need all of them to carry the team forward. That has certainly been Scott’s (strength) for over nine years to empower others.

“It’s not about me, the club is going through a process to find the right person and the right management structure, which includes people from all different parts of the organization and it’s a bigger decision than that.

“I think there’s a group of us who all have the experience and the attributes to definitely be able to do it, so we’ll see what happens.”

Pendlebury announced last month that he was stepping down as captain after nine years in the role, the club’s longest-serving captain.

Originally published as AFL 2023: Follow the latest injury news as the 2023 season approaches

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