AFL: Brisbane star Harris Andrews set to make welcome return from hamstring injury in the club's first final
A quicker-than-expected recovery from a hamstring has Lions defender Harris Andrews poised to take on the Tigers in an AFL qualifying final.
Andrews, arguably the competition’s best fullback and one of three Lions named in a 40-man All Australian squad on Tuesday, has not played since tearing his hamstring in the third quarter of Brisbane’s win over Collingwood on September 4.
It was expected Andrews would be sidelined for six weeks and not be available until the weekend of the preliminary finals.
But provided he emerges unscathed from a “big session” later this week, Andrews is confident of being fit for the challenge of nullifying star Tigers forwards Jack Riewoldt and Tom Lynch on October 2.
And in further good news for the Lions, key midfielder Jarrod Berry will be right to return from a shoulder injury against the Tigers.
“The staff that we’ve got in place that look after the rehab guys, led by Selwyn Griffith ... are the best in the business,” Andrews said.
“He (Griffith) just does an awesome job of being able to keep you really positive, working hard and just getting your body right.
“I’ve been able to train pretty well the last couple of weeks to get some real continuity through my body. Now got a couple of boxes to tick off later this week.
“We’ll have a pretty big session on Thursday or Friday. If I can get through that, I’ll give myself a really good chance of playing.
“I back my ability to recover well.”
As does Berry, who hurt his shoulder in the Lions’ QClash win over the Gold Coast Suns on September 9.
“I could have played two games ago I reckon,” Berry said.
“We took a bit of a conservative approach leading into the finals. I feel really good about it.
“My initial reaction was that I might miss out on the finals but the scans came back pretty good and there wasn’t too much damage.”
Andrews’ likely return is expected to be at the expense of young gun Jack Payne. whose performances have impressed the 2019 All-Australian representative.
“The way the guys have been able to play really well without me has been really exciting and to have Jack Payne come in for four or games now, it’s been awesome to watch him grow as a footballer and as a leader,” said Andrews, who added the Lions were better equipped to handle finals football this season after last season’s straight-sets exit.
“We’re excited about the opportunity. We reviewed pretty hard at the end of last year about what we did in those two finals that we lost so no doubt we’ll look over that again and put those things in place.”