Jesse Hogan ready and here to stay in 2015

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Jesse Hogan (right) during a training session on Tuesday. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Jesse Hogan (right) during a training session on Tuesday. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Jesse Hogan (right) during a training session on Tuesday. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Catching glimpses of Jesse Hogan’s talent in pre-season matches only has tested Melbourne fans for two years, but coach Paul Roos thinks the gifted key forward will look back at the stalled start to his career as a “blessing in disguise”.

Just turned 20, now injury-free and ready to go, the two years of grounding Hogan has had at AAMI Park – the first because he was ineligible to play as a 17-year-old access selection, and the second because of a stress-related back injury – will make him a more rounded player when he makes his debut, Roos says.

That first home-and-away match could come as early as Melbourne’s season-opener against Gold Coast, with Roos expecting Hogan  “to play his role, hopefully be in good form in the NAB Challenge and hopefully play round one”.

Memories of Hogan’s cameos in the NAB Challenge are all Melbourne supporters have, but he has made a big impression in the five matches he has played.

The one that sticks in the minds of most was his first match against North Melbourne in 2013 when he outmarked Scott McMahon and slotted a set shot from the boundary,  prompting commentator Dwayne Russell to remark, “What a sneak peek of a superstar we are getting tonight.”

Hogan also played in the 2014 series before the back problem flared.

The Demons are determined not to place too much pressure on their highly rated youngsters and Hogan is no exception, however Roos can see why supporters would be excited to see Hogan again in the NAB Challenge.

“It’s exciting for me as well, because I haven’t really seen him play, either,” said Roos, now in his second year at the club.

Since the last time fans saw Hogan in action, Roos said the club’s development staff had used the time in which the 195-centimetre forward was able to train – but was kept out of playing – to give him a “football education”,  building his body, getting him to help out with opposition analysis and report back to line coaches as well as learning about how to best prepare for matches.

The club will do the same with Christian Petracca, who has been ruled out for the season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament at training last month.

The No.2 draft pick has been told by doctors he might be ready to resume playing in four to five months, however Roos told the media on Tuesday that “the coach told him he can’t”, preferring instead to use this year to enhance his development.

“What we’ve learnt from Jesse is that you can really improve them in different areas if they do have a long-term injury,” Roos said. “We see it as an opportunity to iron out some of his flaws.”

Despite the gains Hogan has made over the past 12 months, the club is still realistic about balancing internal expectations against the external hype, fully aware that key-position players take more time to turn into genuine A-graders.

Physically, Hogan has done everything the club has asked of him this pre-season.

“He’s still going to build into the season and hopefully improve as it goes along,” Roos said.

Hogan will be the main interest for Demons supporters looking ahead to their NAB Challenge, which begins on Thursday night against Fremantle at Fremantle Oval.

Key recruits Heritier Lumumba and Jeff Garlett, as well as more low profile pick-ups Sam Frost (GWS) and Ben Newton (Port Adelaide) have been included in the 29-man squad.

Bernie Vince won’t play at all in the NAB Challenge although that will not put the midfield general out of contention for round one, with Roos confirming he was still in the mix.

Vince resumed full training only in early January because of  shoulder surgery and then suffered another setback with hamstring issues, forcing him to miss more training.

However, Roos said the 29-year-old, who finished third in the best-and-fairest last year, has given himself a chance by completing a solid running workload pre-Christmas.

“He is a possibility because of his age, even though his preparation won’t be anywhere near what some of the other players have had,” the coach said.

“He has a lot of pre-seasons under his belt so he doesn’t need as much time as other players to get ready.”

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