Hodge made to wait for AFL return

Knowing Luke Hodge and Alastair Clarkson, it was more intense than a “conversation”.

Despite the Hawthorn captain’s lobbying, he must wait at least another week before returning to the AFL.

Clarkson said his skipper had made the case this week for a surprise recall before Friday night’s match against North Melbourne.

But the Hawks want to make sure that when Hodge finally is back, he is ready.

Hodge has played only four games this season, and a knee injury has sidelined him since round six.

“He’s getting close to playing and I had a conversation with him earlier this week about whether he wanted to play,” Clarkson said.

“We wanted him to do a good block of training to get himself cherry-ripe to play some really good footy in the second half of the year.

“We’ve missed him in the first part of the year. He’s had very little presence in our side obviously for a fair amount of time, very little influence.

“He’s a high-quality player and he’s the captain of our club, so we’re looking forward to what he can bring in the second half of the year.

“He was pretty keen to play, but we’ve been holding him back just to make sure when he does play, he can make the biggest possible contribution he can.”

Hodge had a hard-running session on Thursday morning with teammate Jonathan O’Rourke before Hawks training.

Hawthorn are determined to put as much work into Hodge as possible before he plays in the AFL again.

“We just need to make sure,” Clarkson said.

“We think it’s best he does this little bit of a pre-season and gets himself right for the second half of the year.”

After Friday night, Hawthorn play Gold Coast in Launceston and then have a bye.

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