HAWTHORN half-back Changkuoth Jiath is heading to Qatar during the Christmas break to spend time at a world leading sports medicine practice in a bid to put his injury headaches behind him.
The 24-year-old managed only eight appearances in 2023 and didn't feature after round nine due to persistent calf and Achilles issues, after managing only 14 games across a stop-start campaign in 2022.
Jiath will spend five days in early January completing a block at Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital in Doha, before returning to resume pre-season when the Hawks report back for training in the new year.
Veteran Hawthorn head physio Andrew Lambart, who will mark 20 years at the club next season, has a long association with Aspetar and will accompany Jiath to the Middle East.
The defender will undergo a biomechanics assessment and an injury prevention program to help boost his chances of staying on the park in 2024.
Jiath completed a comprehensive off-season under the guidance of Hawks rehabilitation coordinator Jack Price and has been a major focus for high performance manager Peter Burge since he returned to the club for a second stint last pre-season.
The Xavier College product has started transitioning back into full training across the first few weeks of the pre-season. The Hawks will continue to carefully monitor his loads this side of Christmas with the plan to let Jiath off the leash in the new year.
Hawthorn opted to wait until January to send Jiath to Aspetar, rather than during the off-season, in order to have the game-breaking backman as close to full fitness as possible to get the most out of the trip.
The Hawks haven’t sent a player overseas for medical assessment in the past and view this trip as the cherry on the top of the program they implement at Waverley Park.
Jiath has a long history of niggles due to his power, speed and endurance combination, but the club has left no stone unturned to get the Victorian back on the park.
Richmond recently sent Josh Gibcus to spend a week at Aspetar after the young key defender missed the entire 2023 season due to a complex hamstring injury that left the medical and high performance departments at Punt Road searching for answers.
The 2021 No.9 pick has returned to training with Adem Yze's squad and will gradually transition back into full training across the next two months with the hope he will be available early in the season.
West Coast also sent Jeremy McGovern, Elliot Yeo and Harry Edwards to Aspetar in October in a bid to solve some of the durability issues that have plagued the Eagles in the past two years.
Aspetar was established in 2007 and is now widely regarded as the beacon of sports medicine with international football superstars Erling Haaland, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe all spending time recovering from injuries at the world-class destination in the desert.