Launceston: Jarryd Roughead says he is happy that some of the hype surrounding his returning to football will likely now subside after he performed well in Hawthorn's pre-season opener.
Having not played a competitive game since the 2015 grand final due to a knee injury and then a recurrence of skin cancer, Roughead was back in action on Friday night in Launceston as the Hawks edged Geelong in their JLT Community Series clash. Youngster Kade Stewart sunk a set shot after the siren to pinch a four-point victory for the Hawks, who had earlier relinquished a 41-point half time lead.
The interest on the night centred on Roughead though, who was also making his first appearance since his recent appointment as Hawthorn captain. Free of cancer, Roughead had 14 disposals and kicked an early goal, although he faded from the match in the second half.
Having avoided the media before the game, Roughead didn't seem totally at ease with the attention he was receiving, but was glad to have ticked another box on his road to Hawthorn's round one blockbuster against Essendon.
"I suppose it's good, but I haven't put this one as the focus. It's still a bit of a building block. Round one's obviously what I'm building towards, and the more games I can play, it's just going to be better for me, and better for the team as well," Roughead said.
"It's not about this game. It's building towards round one. You guys make it big, and I understand that but for me this is just a small step leading towards round one. Towards the end I was cooked, but I guess you're going to get that when you've had a bit of time off."
Asked if he was sick of the spotlight that has intensified since his recovery from illness, Roughead hinted that he would be glad to see the back of the attention. "It's been such a big thing over the past 12 months that of course there's going to be interest. It's just good that a little bit of it's over," he said.
Still the Coleman medallist said he enjoyed being back in the thick of the on-field action. "I haven't played for 500 days or so, so of course I'm going to have fun. I'd much rather do that than run out at Waverley three times a week."
In addition to Roughead, off-season recruits Jaeger O'Meara and Ty Vickery were also making their first appearances in the brown and gold. After an injury-marred final two years at Gold Coast, midfielder O'Meara was restricted to half a game on Friday night but showed plenty in that time, working hard in the midfield for 12 disposals. Former Richmond big man Vickery rotated through the forward line and ruck and was competitive with 10 disposals and seven hit-outs.
Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said he was happy with the games of both men. "We were pleased with the contributions those two lads made to the club in their first games for us," Clarkson said.
The only apparent concern for the Hawks was an incident involving vice-captain Liam Shiels, who is likely to be looked at by the match review panel for a high elbow on Cat Darcy Lang.
Geelong assistant coach Matthew Knights allayed fears of serious injuries for either midfielder Cameron Guthrie or backman Lachie Henderson, both of whom were sidelined before half time.
"They're both pretty good. Guth's just got a knock to the lower leg and Hendo's a bit higher on the hip pointer. We'll check them out on Monday but it doesn't look too serious at this point. Just really precaution in the end with both lads," Knights said.
Cats skipper Joel Selwood, brother Scott, and teammates Daniel Menzel, Kade Kolodjashnij and Lincoln McCarthy all missed the match, but Knights said all five were likely to play at some stage before the end of the pre-season series.