Simon Black faces a battle to play in round one
BRISBANE Lions' midfield veteran Simon Black is almost certain to miss round one, with his recovery from a knee injury taking longer than expected.
The 33-year-old had surgery in December and was scheduled to be back in full training by now, but is still a way off.
The Lions play the Western Bulldogs in round one on March 30, and coach Michael Voss said time was starting to work against Black.
"He's an outside chance but he's pushing it a little bit now. This week we'll have a look at Blacky and what his timeline looks like, but it's starting to drift a little bit," Voss said.
"We're hoping to get him on the track very very soon, but we're now three weeks out and he's not training with the main group, so … it's going to be pretty tough for him to be able to get up."
Black may be the oldest player at the club, but he still averaged more than 23 disposals in his 18 games last year.
However, the Lions added clearance specialist Brent Moloney from Melbourne in the off-season, and emerging midfielders Daniel Rich, Jack Redden, Tom Rockliff, and Claye Beams continue to develop.
In contrast to most coaches spoken to over the weekend, Voss said the cap on rotations during the NAB Cup was helping to prepare his players better.
Voss said the pre-season matches were about 25 minutes shorter than a premiership fixture, and the reduced rotations actually helped.
"The one advantage you get with 80 rotations is that … players are spending more time on the field," he said.
"For mine, having players out there playing for long minutes prepares them all a little bit better I think, in terms of round one and being able to handle that intensity and game time they need."
Voss said it would be one thing trialling it during the pre-season and another implementing it when four points was on the line.
"What the long-term decision is as opposed to what we're getting out of it now, that's something the AFL have to adjudicate and that's what the rule makers are there to do," he said.
"We all play by the same rules. We're almost pre-empting something that is going to be 12 months away.
"At the moment we've got 2013 ahead of us and we'll be going back to that (unlimited interchange) when round one comes, so that's all I'm really concerned about at this point in time."
Simon Black is a midfielder in NAB AFL Fantasy. He averaged 82 points in 2012. Register your team at our AFL Fantasy Hub.
Michael Whiting covers Brisbane Lions news for AFL.com.au. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_mikewhiting