Lack of injuries still providing challenges

Forward Ryan Haythorpe is back in the Sandhurst side on Saturday.
Forward Ryan Haythorpe is back in the Sandhurst side on Saturday.


SANDHURST continues to enjoy a dream run injury-wise this season, but that's also providing challenges for Brett Fitzpatrick and his coaching staff.

Approaching the halfway mark of the Bendigo Football League season, the Dragons - who take on Eaglehawk at Canterbury Park on Saturday - have remarkably used just 25 players in the seniors so far.

That's well below the BFL average of 33.1 players per team and 13 less than Gisborne, which has used the most in the competition with 38.

The lack of injuries, combined with their sustained impressive form - the Dragons are undefeated - has ensured minimal changes to Sandhurst's side this season.

However, Fitzpatrick is mindful of the importance of providing players at reserves and under-18 level knocking on the door of senior selection an opportunity to not only reward their good form, but also give them experience at the top level should the Dragons run into injury trouble.

"We made a point of that earlier in the season, but the size of the margins hasn't warranted players being left out of the side just for the sake of it," Fitzpatrick said on Friday.

"But we've revisited it the past couple of weeks and said we'll need to start making changes at times that aren't warranted based on form and performance, but it will need to happen for the well being of the team later in the year."

Among the players getting an opportunity on Saturday will be Joshua Hann, who will make his senior debut for the Dragons.

"He played a couple of practice matches in the seniors and has been among the best players in the reserves just about every week," Fitzpatrick said.

"He's can play on a wing, through the flanks or in the midfield and has some pace and has put his hand up for an opportunity with consistent form."

Forward Ryan Haythorpe returns, while in what has been a rare injury for the Dragons, Andrew O'Connor is out with a quad strain.

O'Connor has been a pivotal member of what has been the best defence in the BFL this year that is conceding an average of just 49.6 points per game.

While the Dragons are flying at the top of the ladder, Eaglehawk (4-4) is fourth, but 0-3 against sides currently in the top five. 


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