REIGNING Hawthorn best-and-fairest Jack Gunston will miss the start of the 2021 AFL season after undergoing back surgery.
The Hawks are estimating the star forward will be out for up to five months, which could see him miss between four and six games.
Hawthorn football manager Graham Wright said it was vital the issue was taken care of to protect the player’s long-term future.
The 29-year-old Gunston underwent surgery on Wednesday.
“Jack has had some issues with his back in recent years and we’ve been able to manage it conservatively,” Wright said.
“Recently, however, it hasn’t settled and in consultation with Jack, our doctors and his surgeon we believe surgery is in his best interest going forward.
“Recovery for this type of surgery is usually around 4-5 months and it’s important not to rush it.
“We won’t take any unnecessary risks and we look forward to seeing him back on the field early in the season.”
Gunston, a three-time premiership player, was a shining light during a dark 2020 campaign for the Hawks as he booted 31 goals.
Gunston claimed his first Peter Crimmins Medal, edging out 2018 Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell for the Hawks’ top individual award.
(C) AAP 2020