Gawn paralyzed; Tsatas’ early setback; Saints stock up on former Carlton first-rounder

Gawn missed several months of 2017 with a hamstring injury but bounced back to become the game’s top ruckman for the past five seasons. He survived two knee reconstructions early in his career and also came back from a syndesmosis injury last season.

The Bombers also had bad news on the injury front when their top 2022 National Draft pick, Elijah Tsatas, had to undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

The club described the tear as minor but said they would be conservative in their approach to recovery in a bid to prepare the No 5 pick from last year’s draft for a long, prolific career.

“Elijah sustained a blow to his knee during a competitive practice earlier in the week and the initial scan showed a small tear in his meniscus. He was examined today by a surgeon who recommended a repair,” McPherson said.

Elijah Tsatas played for the Oakleigh Chargers before being drafted to the Bombers.

Elijah Tsatas played for the Oakleigh Chargers before being drafted to the Bombers.Credit:AFL photos

“The post-surgery timeframe will be determined post-surgery but he is a young player with a bright future ahead of him. While this setback is disappointing, we won’t rush his return to the game.

“He’s had a great start to his time in the AFL system having had a very impressive preseason so far. We will give him the necessary time to recover to ensure he is fully prepared to resume the AFL program.”

Tsatas suffered a foot injury in 2022 that sidelined him for three months, but he remained one of the most sought-after players in the country and several clubs sought to move up the draft order to include him in their roster.

St Kilda stocks up on former first-round blue

peter ryan

Liam Stocker in his new colors.

Liam Stocker in his new colors.

New Saint Liam Stocker said he was determined to revive his career at St Kilda after spending a post-season reflective week deciding whether to plunge back into the fray after four years and 28 games at Carlton wool.

He said he realized he craved the connection that the game offered and that he wanted to help end the stigma that surrounds mental health while continuing to speak out about the anxiety he experienced and how to deal with it, learn.

“I got to the bottom of why I wanted to play football…it’s really difficult going through all of these things, especially being delisted and the heartbreak that comes with it,” Stocker said.

“I’m here to be part of something important. I hope I didn’t have a role model like I did when I was 14, 15 or 16 who understood this stuff and was open to talking about it.”

Stocker hopes to play through midfield defense but remains hopeful of moving to midfield at some point. He says his main role will be hitting the ball on defense and assisting his teammates on defense.

“I know I have a lot of hard work ahead of me,” Stocker said. “I am very grateful to both clubs.”

Stocker, who turns 23 on Monday, trained with St Kilda in the pre-season after the Blues pulled him off the list late last season.

He said the Saints are confident he has the appetite to resume his career and he’s confident he’s equipped to deal with the pressures that come with a high-performance environment.

Stocker said former kangaroo Mason Wood, who rekindled his career with the Saints after being delisted, was very supportive as he tried to make an impression, with skipper Jack Steele also helping him settle in .

He played 28 games for Carlton in four years but, despite his talent, was unable to establish himself as a defender.

Liam Stocker revealed his talent in the blues.

Liam Stocker revealed his talent in the blues.Credit:Getty Images

Stocker made a high-profile start to the game when he became the first player to be drafted following a live trade between clubs, with the Blues trading future first-round picks with the Crows to snag pick 19, giving them allowed to select Stocker.

However, the intelligent ball user, who can win the ball in competition, struggled to impress at Carlton with an injury when COVID-19 disrupted his progress. He played 16 games in 2021 but only six under new coach Michael Voss in 2022. He admitted after being dropped from the list that he almost gave up the game during his time with the Blues because of an aggressive anxiety disorder.

Stocker said returning Saints coach Ross Lyon understood what he could contribute on the field and that gave him confidence that he could grow in the area if he was willing to work hard.

“Right now I’m just trying to prove myself out there,” Stocker said.

Stocker was selected by Carlton when Stephen Silvagni was list manager, with the former Blue a potential candidate for the Saints’ vacant list manager position. However, the Saints were in no rush to replace James Gallagher.

Stay up to date with the best AFL coverage in the country. Sign up for the Real Footy newsletter. Gawn paralyzed; Tsatas’ early setback; Saints stock up on former Carlton first-rounder

Ryan Sederquist

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