LAVINGTON coach James Saker says he has no concerns throwing Luke Garland into the rigours of senior football straight away.
The Panthers’ reigning best and fairest winner will play his first game of the year against Wodonga Raiders today after being troubled by a bulging disc in his back.
Garland had been considered more than likely to return via the reserves but Saker said there was simply no reason to play Garland there.
“He’s been our best trainer for the past month,” Saker said.
“We’ve been really cautious with him and there are no doubts with his body.
“In my opinion, that’s the only reason you’d play somebody of Luke’s quality in the reserves.
“We think he’ll be fine, regardless of the grade.”
Saker said the Panthers let milestone man John Hunt down in his 300th senior game for the club last year and were determined to make amends this afternoon.
Hunt will break Lavington’s games record when he runs out at senior level for the 320th time.
“It’s a great achievement,” Saker said.
“We let him down last year and that was something that was mentioned by the group this week.
“We’re keen to bite back hard from last week and play in the way the occasion deserves.”
Nick Molkentin and Jack Harland will both make their debut for the Panthers, with Ryan Summerfield and Brad Pocock playing their first game for the Raiders.