Star Hawthorn forward Jack Gunston has made an excellent recovery from surgery to repair a niggling back issue and is set to bounce back in 2022.
The three-time AFL premiership player was restricted to just one game last season, after winning his first Hawks best-and-fairest award in 2020.
After having surgery last December to fix a bulging disc in his back, Gunston returned for Hawthorn's round seven game against St Kilda.
But his comeback was short-lived, with the 30-year-old's injury again flaring up and forcing him out for the rest of the campaign
Hawthorn's physical performance manager Luke Boyd said Gunston had recovered well from another round of surgery in August.
"Jack has been building a really good strength base over the past couple of months and has now commenced his running program," Boyd said.
"He has been feeling really good after the follow-up procedure and he's been in at the club on a regular basis lately to ensure he is getting himself in the best shape possible.
"The big focus for him has been to build his strength through his hips and back in preparation for next year.
"We anticipate that he is going to get a really strong pre-season in given the surgery was early enough in off-season."
Gunston's name was mentioned during the trade period as speculation grew that Hawks stars could be moved on.
Veteran forward Luke Breust and the dynamic Chad Wingard were chased by GWS, and Hawthorn were happy to let them go, but the two players vetoed the trades.
The Hawks will begin a new era under coach Sam Mitchell, after the legendary Alastair Clarkson parted ways with the club in August after 17 seasons and four premierships.
Australian Associated Press