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259 days later… Jong’s back

Press Conference | Caleb previews Hawks clash Watch Western Bulldogs midfielder Caleb Daniel speak to the media from Ballarat's Mars Stadium, ahead of Saturday's JLT Series clash against Hawthorn.

Lin Jong will play his first competitive game of football on Saturday, 259 days after he was struck down with a serious knee injury against Melbourne back in Round 13, last season.

Jong left the field in the arms of trainers after first quarter collision with Melbourne captain Nathan Jones; scans later confirming that the then 24-year-old would miss the remainder of the 2017 season with a ruptured ACL.

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This weekend marks his long awaited return to footy and according to Bulldogs coach Daniel Giansiracusa, he is fitter and stronger than ever.

“Jongy’s looking good,” he said.  “Obviously he’s had to take some steps throughout his rehab but he hasn’t missed a beat.”

“He looks quite powerful and he’s showing his speed on the track.”

Jong was in career best form before he went down, averaging 18.9 disposals, 4.4 tackles and 2.7 marks per contest over 12 games.  His 23 touch, eight mark and seven tackles performance against the Swans in Round 2 was a standout, and his 14 tackles against Collingwood in Round 1 were a career high.   

Caleb Daniel, speaking to media in Ballarat on Friday, said Jong is excited to get out onto Mars Stadium and get that first game under his belt.

“He’s very excited, I had a chat with him just before,” Daniel said. 

“He’s not too nervous at the moment, he might be a little bit tomorrow morning, but there’s plenty of time before then, so hopefully he can get out some nervous energy, but it’s great to see, he’s been training really well.

“He’s explosive and he’ll provide a lot for our midfield.”

The Dogs face Hawthorn and Collingwood in their two pre-season games this year before travelling to Canberra for Round 1 to take on the Giants.