CAIRNS’ Cazalys Stadium looks set to be the relaunching pad of Travis Cloke’s AFL career.
The former Collingwood and now Western Bulldogs centre half forward stepped away from the game last month, battling a mental health problem, but is on the verge of a recall to the Bulldogs side that travels to the Far North this week.
Cloke kicked a goal and was named in the Bulldogs VFL side’s best players in their win over Geelong on Saturday and with star forward Jake Stringer pulling a hamstring against Carlton, his path to the seniors is clear.
Stringer may face several weeks on the sidelines after injuring his hamstring minutes into the second quarter against Carlton on Sunday and Dogs coach Luke Beveridge has backed Cloke to return.
“Travis played pretty well,” Beveridge said.
“He’s two games back now and he seemed to enjoy last night.
“He’ll be another player that we’ll consider (after) losing Jake … obviously you’d think he’d be out for a number of weeks.”
The win over Carlton lifted the Bulldogs back within a game of the top eight after losing four of their past five games.
Cloke has not played a game of senior football in more than a month.
The 23-year-old Stringer is in serious doubt to travel to Cairns, a venue where he hurt his AC joint in 2016 in their win over the Gold Coast Suns.
Medium-sized forward Tory Dickson could also join Cloke back in the Dogs side for their trip north.
“I thought he played really well last night with some of his spark and spunk back,” Beveridge said. “He had an encouraging performance at VFL level so he’ll definitely come into consideration for this week.”
For the Suns, co-captain Steven May will also be unavailable for the Cairns game after he hurt his hamstring during the first quarter of Saturday night’s loss to Collingwood at Metricon Stadium.
Suns coach Rodney Eade has earmarked NEAFL big man Keegan Brooksby to replace May.
“We have limited stocks,” Eade said. “Keegan Brooksby is perhaps the only possible option at this stage.”
Cairns AFL Premiership Match
Western Bulldogs v Gold Coast Suns, on Saturday, 22 July 2017 at 4.35pm.
Gates open: 2pm (those wanting to attend the Curtain Raiser match can enter via Tills Street gate from 1.30pm)
Curtain raiser: 1.40pm — North Queensland v South Queensland Rep Match
Main game: 4.35pm
Tickets from ticketdirect.com.au