STAR Hawthorn recruit Tom Scully remains without a return date in mind – other than wanting to play at some stage next year – as he continues his recovery from a gruesome ankle injury.
Scully met the full Hawks playing group for the first time on Monday, including a brief one-on-one discussion with Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell.
He didn't join the club's other newcomers in travelling to Papua New Guinea to trek the gruelling Kokoda Track.
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Scully, who has played 152 matches for Greater Western Sydney and Melbourne, fractured the fibula in his right ankle and suffered a syndesmosis injury in an incident that left him writhing in pain.
The severity of that setback, combined with the Giants' salary cap issues, saw the AFL's best two-way runner traded to Hawthorn for the bargain price of a future fourth-round pick.
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"The ankle's feeling OK at the moment," he told reporters at Hawthorn's home away from home at Xavier College.
"I'm going to start some light loading this week (and) everything's on track. It's going to be a long process, but one I'm confident that I can get right.
"Obviously, the Hawks are really confident as well that, managed well, I can be back playing footy next year, which is my ultimate aim."
As AFL.com.au reported in October, Scully's ankle fracture healed quite well, but he said there were complications with cartilage damage that was restricting his progress.
It is understood GWS was initially keen to score a first-round pick in return for the No.1 draft pick from 2009, but his Hawthorn medical erased any hope of that.
Scully, who has signed for the next three seasons with the Hawks, underwent a second bout of surgery about three months ago to remove screws and a plate in his right ankle.
"I've been reassured it's heading in the right direction and I've had some positive results of late," he said.
"If anything, (the medical) actually reassured me they're confident they can get my ankle right and for me that was a big thing.
"Obviously, there's an element of risk for everyone involved here, but as I said, it's not all doom and gloom – I'm pretty confident."
Essendon also showed interest in luring Scully home.
However, Hawthorn's remarkable success rate in nursing winged recruits back to health, such as Jaeger O'Meara and Shaun Burgoyne, was an irresistible selling point.
Even Scully, much like the rest of the football community, regarded his departure – despite three years remaining on his Giants contract – as an "interesting move".
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"With the injury happening and not playing much this year, it certainly gave me a bit of time to reflect about where I was at with my football and life in general," he said.
"It's come from nowhere, really. I've had a conversation with the football club, with the Giants, who were very good the way they handled it.
"They were very open and … there was a discussion about potentially moving back to Melbourne and obviously that grew some legs and then Hawthorn became a realistic chance to get to.
"That was something I was keen to explore and I'm just very thankful both clubs were able to work through and facilitate a trade."
Self-confessed introvert Scully, who was a vice-captain at GWS, said his focus was on earning respect at the Hawks rather than putting his hand up to fill a vacant leadership role.