Hawthorn forward Jack Gunston is hoping teammate Jarryd Roughead will be available for round one next year after returning to training despite his ongoing cancer fight.
The Hawks announced in May that Roughead had suffered a recurrence of a melanoma he’d previously had cut from his lip, with the cancer spreading through his body.
Roughead was sidelined indefinitely and missed the entire 2016 AFL season as he underwent debilitating immunotherapy treatment, but has since returned to the track on light duties.
Gunston says it’s too early to say when Roughead might be ready to play again but he’s not giving up hope of a return early in the season.
“Like everyone else, I’m hopeful he’ll be there for round one but I guess his health is more important than anything else,” Gunston said on Monday.
“That’s (just) my hope. I miss playing with the big fella. I don’t know where’s he at or what situation he’s in but it’s good to see him out there training.
“If you look probably 10 months ago, you wouldn’t think he’d be out there. He’s done a fair bit of work over the break as well.
“It’s great to see. He’s got a smile on his face, he’s always upbeat. He’s just one of those guys you always want around the team because he’s a good morale-booster and he’s a ripper bloke.”
Speaking after the Hawks’ semi-final exit in September, coach Alistair Clarkson said Roughead had been given some good news from doctors as he continued his treatment.
Gunston, whose goal tally slipped in 2016, said he hoped the recruitment of former Richmond forward Ty Vickery would ease pressure on the forward line and allow him to play as more of a third tall next season.
He admitted it was a shock to see star veterans Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis traded but said the recruitment of Sydney’s Tom Mitchell and Gold Coast’s Jaeger O’Meara would boost the side’s ball-winning ability.
“Tom Mitchell played in a grand final last year and played really well, and we know what some of the other guys are capable of,” he said.
“It’s an exciting time for the group.”