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Ball hoping to bounce back

Collingwood midfielder Luke Ball is on target for a strong return in 2013, says football director Geoff Walsh.

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The 28-year-old has been out of action since injuring his knee in round three, and has needed a full knee reconstruction. But he hopes to follow in the footsteps of St Kilda's Lenny Hayes, who showed with an outstanding 2012 season that it is possible to make a successful return.
By the time we resume training, he'll be virtually joining in nearly full training.Geoff Walsh
Hayes missed virtually all of 2011 with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, but returned to win St Kilda's best and fairest this year. Walsh says Ball, who has re-signed with the Magpies for another two seasons, is close to being able to train again and is expected to be at the club's high-altitude training camp in Utah.
''He's coming along really well,'' Walsh said. ''He wasn't all that far away from being ready at the end of the season.
"By the time we resume training, he'll be virtually joining in nearly full training.''
Lachlan Keeffe is the other Collingwood player battling back from a torn ACL and Walsh says medical staff have been pleased with his progress.
"He would be somewhere towards the back end of the pre-season, I would think, in terms of him being up and going in full training,'' Walsh said. ''It's too far away and there's too much water to go under the bridge before we can work out when he would start playing again.''
Meanwhile, Hawthorn captain Luke Hodge will have surgery this week to fix a knee problem. Hodge suffered a posterior cruciate ligament injury in round six against St Kilda and missed the next 10 games. He has been carrying the problem since returning to action, but Hawks football manager Mark Evans believes he will be running before Christmas.
"It needs some stabilization and they'll have a look at it while they're in there and do a bit of a clean-out," said Evans.
"He should be running before the end of the year, so he'll just need to take it a little bit slowly. We don't start pre-season until late November, so he'll just be a few weeks behind the rest of the group.
"He's fine, but the knee's not quite as stable as it could be."
Collingwood are 8.50 to win the 2013 Grand Final while Hawthorn are at 4.25.
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Buckley not satisfied

Coach Nathan Buckley has challenged his Collingwood players to rediscover their hunger for success in 2013.

Dane-Swan

The Magpies were still to some extent still celebrating their 2010 premiership, he suggested, and what was needed to get them back to that position was to find the one or two per cent in preparation they have been lacking.
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The Pies suffered a dramatic injury list, suspensions to key players and the tragic death of former teammate John McCarthy in September.
Buckley said it was time to refocus and put away all thoughts of their 2010 achievement.
"I spoke to the boys and there's a quote I've heard, 'Whenever an individual or a team decides that success has been obtained, progress stops'," Buckley said.
"The fact is, two years ago this club was able to win a flag. There's a cup the boys looked at today with 2010 on it that was a symbol of the hard work that was done preceding and during that year.
"In the years since, we haven't been good enough.
"The challenge for all of us is to find out how we can be good enough and that's got to come back to preparation.
"We may have been guilty - coaches, players and administrators - of feeling that we had achieved success.
"We may be guilty of not finding that extra 1 or 2 per cent in preparation that gives us the chance to be performing at our best when the whips are cracking.
"If we feel like we've been successful, individually or as a team, if we feel like we've got to where we want to get to, we won't go any further.
"We need to be better prepared when we get to the same position next year."
Club president Eddie McGuire said he was pleased with what Buckley had achieved in his first year as coach.
We may be guilty of not finding that extra 1 or 2 per cent in preparation.Nathan Buckley
"When the appointment was made some three-and-a-half years ago that Nathan would be our coach this year, we hoped that we would be a position to see Nathan develop into the senior coach that we wanted to take our club forward," McGuire said.
"I can tell you without one thread of doubt in my mind it was a decision that has been well made and one that has been well rewarded by our football club with the input of Nathan Buckley as our senior coach this year.
Collingwood are 8.50 to win the 2013 Grand Final, with Brisbane 51.00.

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Tippett picks Swans

Sydney have won the race to sign Adelaide forward Kurt Tippett, whose future at the Crows had been under a cloud for months.

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The 25-year-old has agreed a conditional four-year deal with the premiers.
The key forward had turned down a new deal with Adelaide, and had looked likely to move back to Queensland, where he grew up.

Tippett announced on Tuesday that he was leaving Adelaide where he had played 104 games and kicked 188 goals, and Collingwood prepared to move in.
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But he explained that the Swans had won out for a number of factors.

The deal with Sydney is subject to a trade being agreed.
"It would have been easy to accept a generous five-year offer to stay in Adelaide, or something similar from the Gold Coast or Brisbane, and I also want to thank those clubs for their interest," Tippett said.

"But this was a combined football/lifestyle decision and the balance between the two.

"I was born in Sydney, I have a lot of friends and family there, and this offers me a chance to play football in a lifestyle which I really enjoy.

"Watching the AFL Grand Final last Saturday, listening to the commentary and talking to various people over time, it is obvious the Swans have a very special culture, in addition to a very good team.

"I look forward to being part of it, and playing a role in a team that can be in the premiership mix next year and beyond."
Sydney are 6.50 to win the 2013 Grand Final, with Collingwood 8.50.

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Crowley hails Lyon's heart

Coach Ross Lyon was lauded as Ryan Crowley picked up the Doig Medal as Fremantle's best and fairest for 2012.

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Crowley says Lyon saved his career a year ago, and brought the best out of him.
The Dockers tagger was destined to be delisted at the end of 2011, but when Lyon took over as coach from Mark Harvey he reversed the decision.
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Crowley was told to lose weight and produce his best form, and responded by winning the Doig Medal by four votes from Chris Mayne.
"My career at Fremantle was almost definitely over," Crowley said.
"The club were looking for a trade and my career was 50-50 at that point.
"Ross came in and we had a frank and honest discussion about where I was at.
"He gave me great confidence. He said if you do the work and get your body right, I know there’s a place for you.
"He said he’s rated me from where he came from and that gave me great confidence.
"I can’t speak highly enough of Ross and everything he's done.
"He’s got the greatest footy brain that I’ve ever experienced.
"He's the right man for the job, he’s just the right man. Trust me, I love him."
He gave me great confidence.Ryan Rowley
Crowley excelled in September, closing down Geelong’s James Kelly and Adelaide's Patrick Dangerfield to win the best and fairest.
Mayne won The Player’s Award for representing the values of the team on the field and Tendai Mzungu won Best Clubman.
Fremantle are 13.00 to win the 2013 Grand Final, with Collingwood 8.50.

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Port appoint Hinkley

Former Geelong star Ken Hinkley has been confirmed as Port Adelaide's new coach.

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The 46-year-old will be introduced to the media on Monday, as part of the Power's revamp of their coaching structure. Alan Richardson has been named as the club's first director of coaching, while Darren Burgess is the new fitness coach.
Hinkley had been in the frame for the top job since Matthew Primus was axed, but Hawthorn assistant Leon Cameron had also been considered. Former Carlton coach Brett Ratten was also a candidate, as was former Sydney and Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade, but both withdrew their interest.
When Cameron opted to move to Greater Western Sydney it left Hinkley as the clear choice. Hinkley has been assistant to Guy McKenna at Gold Coast for the past two years, and was previously assistant at St Kilda, Geelong and Collingwood. He played 132 AFL matches for Fitzroy and Geelong from 1987-95.
Richardson has a wealth of coaching experience at VFA level with Coburg, and as an assistant in the AFL with the Western Bulldogs, Collingwood, Essendon and Carlton.
Hinkley was also strongly considered by Adelaide before they appointed Brenton Sanderson. He will be the first non-Port person to be appointed as coach of the club.
The club has made good strides in resolving many of its financial problems, including the appointment of a new chief executive, Keith Thomas, and of David Koch as new chairman. However, they have not made the top eight since their record 2007 Grand Final loss to Geelong.
Port Adelaide are 251.00 to win the 2013 Grand Final while Geelong are 15.00.

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