Luckless Demon finally back fit and firing
THEY say things happen in threes. Josh Wagner is hoping his injury setbacks this year stop at two.
The hard-running Melbourne defender initially thought he might be done for the season.
He suffered a nasty knee injury during a JLT Community Series match with the Bulldogs, dislocating his fibula after landing awkwardly in a marking contest.
"It was a different one. The doctors hadn't really seen it much before," the 22-year-old said.
"Just popped the top of my fibula out. It was pretty weird looking.
"But it didn't hurt as much as I thought it would.
"And the doctor and physio were pretty positive about it. It just went straight back in, and my knee was pretty stable."
After fearing it was season-ending, the injury only kept the Queenslander out for six weeks.
However, in his just his second game back in the VFL with Casey Scorpions, Wagner broke his hand.
"I just punched the ball and had my thumb in the wrong spot ... cracked a bone in the bottom of my thumb," he said.
Touch wood there's no other incidents, with Wagner slowly finding his feet in his second season since being picked up in the 2016 rookie draft from Aspley.
He will make his fourth straight senior appearance tonight when the Demons host the Gold Coast in Alice Springs.
"My first game I was definitely blowing a lot," he said.
"Three weeks down the track now I feel like my fitness is back, and playing all right footy again."
The Demons (4-5) will look to bounce back after suffering a defeat to North Melbourne last week, their 16th successive loss to the Kangaroos.
"Goody (coach Simon Goodwin) wants us to go up there and make a statement," Smith said.
Wagner said he was enjoying playing with experienced recruits Jordan Lewis and Michael Hibberd.
"He's like another coach out there," he said of Lewis. "He brings us in if he think someone's not done something right. He's just been good for everyone."
Wagner added Hibberd was "super intense".
"He drags a lot of us in the backline with him," he said.
Wagner did not subscribe to the theory put forward by Melbourne great Garry Lyon that the Demons needed to entice Suns skipper Steven May south to hold down a key defensive post.
Regular fullback Tom McDonald has been forced to play ruck and forward, but once Jesse Hogan and Max Gawn return, it will free him up to return to defence, alongside Oscar McDonald and Sam Frost.
"Sam Frost has been getting the job done, and Oscar's been playing well too," he said.