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More back surgery for Gunston amid uncertainty

Hawthorn star Jack Gunston has undergone another round of back surgery against a backdrop of industry speculation about whether he will be at the Hawks next season.

Having gone under the knife late last year to deal with the bulging disc that had been causing him issues, Gunston, the reigning Peter Crimmins medallist, had a delayed start to the 2021 season, returning in round seven against St Kilda.

Jack Gunston has had back issues.

Jack Gunston has had back issues.Credit:Getty Images

It would prove the gun forward’s only game for the year, with his troublesome back flaring up again after the match. The Hawks finally put a line through the triple premiership player late last month before confirming on Tuesday that his back had been operated on again last week.

The club said that the decision for surgery was made with a view to Gunston being able to complete a full pre-season and be available for the start of 2022.

Gunston, who turns 30 on October 16, was linked last off-season with a move to Collingwood but ultimately remained at Hawthorn, where he is contracted until the end of 2022.

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But with the Hawks in the midst of a rebuild and amid the fallout from the messy Alastair Clarkson-Sam Mitchell coaching handover, industry sources close to the situation have told The Age this week that Gunston’s Hawthorn future remains clouded.

The All-Australian was reportedly a strong defender of Clarkson in a meeting that ultimately led to the fast-tracking of Mitchell into the senior job.

There is a view elsewhere in the league that Gunston is gettable, although the Hawks have the upper hand in any potential trade given the veteran – traded a decade ago from Adelaide – would need to be moved in-contract.

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