Saints eye Hannebery role in AFL fight

St Kilda won’t ask Dan Hannebery to work miracles, but are confident the injury-plagued veteran can play a part in their battle for a spot in the AFL final.

Hannebery impressed on Saturday in his first senior appearance of 2022, finishing with 27 disposals, five clearances and a goal in the Saints’ 12-point win over Hawthorn.

The result improved their record to 11-8 for a tough run home with games against three of the top five teams – Geelong, Brisbane and Sydney – yet to be played.

Hannebery has played just 16 games at St Kilda in four years since moving to the big bucks from the Swans due to repeated soft tissue injuries.

But the 31-year-old’s successful comeback has sparked renewed hopes that he can repay the saints’ faith.

“We don’t need him (Hannebery) to do anything unusual,” Ratten said.

“Whether he’s playing in midfield or doing something else, he just has to be a part of it and bring his experience.

“That’s what we’re asking him to do; bring his experience and his voice and his calm head.

“That’s what we want from him.

“We don’t need him to get 40 touches or best-on-ground; we just need him to play his part and help others.”

Hannebery spent most of his comeback game on the wing, scoring an early goal thanks to an accidental jump over the head of a Hawthorn defender.

The tough midfielder, who won a premiership with Sydney in 2012, admitted he was just as nervous as he ever was in the match.

He also admitted that there were times this season when he thought his award-winning career was all but over, having not played since round 23 of last year.

“I’m definitely very happy and grateful to even get the chance to play another game because I love the game,” Hannebery told Fox Footy.

Ratten was convinced that Hannebery would make it through his comeback unscathed.

“I was excited to see Dan play AFL footy again,” the coach said.

“That’s what he’s been screaming for and he’s been struggling.

“Nobody wants to get injured, but it’s great for him mentally to just go out and play and be part of the game.”

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