Lonergan set for season debut in Launceston

FINALLY Jesse Lonergan has been given the chance to run through an AFL banner for the fifth time.

And, in what the 19-year-old is labelling as the ultimate case of ``good timing'', the chance has come in his home state at Launceston's Aurora Stadium, when his eighth-placed Gold Coast faces the high-flying second-placed Hawthorn tomorrow.

``My approach to this game is just to make the most of this opportunity,'' the former Launceston footballer told  The Examiner  yesterday.

``Hopefully I can cement my spot, but you don't want to go in there and let the boys down, so you just want to be able to play my role for the team.''

Lonergan, the Suns' first (and 13th overall) selection in the 2012 national draft, has again been let down by his body this year, with a fracture in his left hand and hamstring worries keeping the hard-at-it midfielder grounded and away from the senior team.

This is after a 2013 broken wrist and hamstring strain ended that season, with Lonergan admitting it was tough watching his teammates rise up the ladder and not being able to be part of it.

``But you do learn about your body, so while it has been frustrating, it has been a good experience and I feel I've grown professionally in this time,'' he said.

``I'm just hoping to play good consistent footy for the rest of the year and work on my defensive awareness in the midfield and getting continuity back with training and playing.''

The fact his first game for 2014 is in his home city and on a ground he has spent plenty of time on will make the experience even more special.

So will sharing it with fellow former Blue and the Rising Star favourite Kade Kolodjashnij.

``I'm used to watching the Hawks play there and guys like (Luke) Hodge and (Grant) Birchall, so it will be a bit funny, but in a way it is a dream come.

``I know when I told my mum and dad (Claire and Danny), they were pretty pumped and there should be a few friends and family down there.''

 Hawthorn will hold an open training session at Aurora Stadium today at 3pm and Gold Coast from 4pm.

Former  Launceston footballer Jesse Lonergan  has overcome several injury worries and will make his 2014 season debut for the Suns against  Hawthorn at Aurora Stadium  tomorrow.  Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Former Launceston footballer Jesse Lonergan has overcome several injury worries and will make his 2014 season debut for the Suns against Hawthorn at Aurora Stadium tomorrow. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

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