by Leader footy news

January 21st 2020

The AFL will need to tick off former AFL big man Daniel Currie’s return to NFL Division 2 outfit Eltham.

The ex-North Melbourne and Gold Coast ruckman hopes to play a handful of games for his junior club this season but will need approval after receiving injury compensation following his retirement.

A foot injury forced the 201cm ruckman into retirement in 2017.

The situation is similar to Dane Swan’s request to play for Westmeadows in 2018, with the Collingwood great receiving a temporary clearance to feature in two games for the Essendon District league club.

Panthers coach Rob Hyde said a decision was expected by the end of February.

“At the moment, (Currie) hasn’t got approval from the AFL. We submitted (an application) and they’re going to consider it, but they needed more information,” he said.“When he retired he was on compensation from the AFL, so they won’t let him play. They’ve got to give a clearance.

“We’ve got our fingers crossed … he’s only going to play three or four games plus finals.”

The news is worse for fellow Eltham junior, Jackson Weatherald, who was eyeing a return to Eltham Central Park after a distinguished career with Eastern powerhouse Balwyn.The four-time EFL representative and two-time Premier Division premiership player is struggling to overcome a back injury.

“Jacko’s diagnosis from the specialist is pretty ordinary,” Hyde said.

“It looks like he won’t play at all this year, his back is pretty crook. He’s going to try again in late February, but he’s not very optimistic.”Weatherald played 17 games for the Tigers in 2019.

While Currie and Weatherald would undoubtedly boost Eltham’s playing stocks, Hyde was excited by his squad’s potential.

He revealed Lane Sinclair, Ben Montanaro and Nick Reibelt trained with Collingwood’s VFL team before Christmas and had returned to the Panthers in top shape.

“Those kids are pretty exciting with another year under their belt,” Hyde said.

“Ben missed the last eight or nine games (of 2019) and he’s up and flying.

“I think we’ll be really competitive. Going on the history of the club and the 19s winning the Division 1 premiership, I think we’ll be thereabouts.”

Eltham will start its Division 2 campaign against Thomastown on April 4.