LUCKLESS Saint Dan Hannebery has been given the green light to return in the VFL on Saturday in a bid to make another late-season comeback at AFL level.
The 31-year-old was set to play for the first time in 2022 last weekend, before his return was put on hold when he entered health and safety protocols.
AFL.com.au understands the club is planning for Hannebery to play some minutes for Sandringham against Coburg at Piranha Park.
Hannebery has endured a nightmare run since crossing from Sydney at the end of 2018, managing just 15 of a possible 79 games at RSEA Park and none since round 23 last season.
After being riddled by calf, hamstring and groin issues across the past few years, Hannebery went to the unusual length of undergoing surgery on his troublesome calf at the end of March in the hope it would finally help him overcome the problems that have curtailed his career.
Hannebery self-funded a trip to Munich in May to visit former Bayern Munich and Germany national team doctor, Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt – the renowned soft tissue guru who has previously worked on a handful of AFL stars – and has since built up his program to the point where the club is ready for him to resume playing.
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The 2012 premiership star is out of contract at the end of October and running out of chances to prove his body can withstand the rigours of the game, but it is understood the Victorian has never given up hope on returning to AFL level again.
While Hannebery has only started the season fully fit once in his four years at RSEA Park, he has finished in the senior side in all three completed seasons and might prove the doubters wrong by doing it again.
The last time St Kilda played finals in 2020, Hannebery returned from three months on the sidelines – including a fortnight in the transition hub on the Gold Coast – to star in an elimination final against the Western Bulldogs before performing strongly in the semi-final loss to Richmond.
It is easy to forget how good Hannebery was between 2010 and 2017 when he rarely missed a game, earned All-Australian selection three times and polled 20 or more votes in the Brownlow Medal on three occasions to establish himself as one of the premier midfielders in the game.
With six rounds to play in the home and away season and in the VFL campaign, history says you can’t rule Hannebery out from returning again. St Kilda hosts Sydney at Marvel Stadium in round 23 in a game that one would think Hannebery has circled on his calendar.