Serious injuries have long threatened Max Bailey’s AFL career and now the Hawthorn ruckman is worried he faces another battle when the interchange cap comes in next season.
The 206cm big man has played just 24 games in seven years at the Hawks, mainly due to the three knee reconstructions.
With an interchange cap set for 2014, Bailey is concerned about the future for ruckmen who aren’t freak athletes.
“If they bring that in and it’s a low cap, it’s probably going to go down the lines of you’re back to your 195cm ruckman who can run all day,” Bailey told the Bendigo Advertiser yesterday.
“I definitely want to be playing in the seniors consistently, they’re not helping us too much with all the rules they keep bringing in.”
Bailey, who took Quarry Hill Primary School students for clinics with team-mate Jordan Kelly yesterday, looked set to become Hawthorn’s first-choice ruckman on the eve of last season - before a wrist injury sidelined him for three months.
By the time the 26-year-old was fit, David Hale and Jarryd Roughead were performing well and he only played two games.
With a solid pre-season behind him, Bailey is hoping for some better luck.
“I feel good, I haven’t worried about my knees since ‘09, since I did my last one,” he said.
“I’m pretty happy with how things are going and I haven’t had any worries this pre-season, so hopefully it stays that way.”
A survey of AFL captains revealed Hawthorn and West Coast were favourites to make it another battle of the birds in the grand final this season.
Bailey agreed the Eagles were the Hawks’ biggest threat, despite watching Sydney claim a famous victory over his team-mates last year.
“I think West Coast. When I look at other teams they seem to be the strongest all across the field,” Bailey said.
“We definitely know we can (win it), we were there last year and we weren’t far off. We know within ourselves what we can do.
“We go into it knowing that we should be right up there at the pointy end of the season.”
There’s speculation Lance Franklin’s decision to delay his contract negotiations could derail the Hawks’ premiership bid, but Bailey denied it was a concern.
The 2005 number 18 draft pick is more worried about breaking the Hawks’ hoodoo against Geelong in round one.
“It would be nice to get that one out of the way,” Bailey said.