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Hansen return a huge boost for Swans
Hansen return a huge boost for Swans

No WAFL player is more important to his team than Ashley Hansen is to Swan Districts.

Hansen kicked 63 goals at an average of better than five a game during his injury-interrupted home- and-away season, falling just three short of adding the Bernie Naylor medal to a trophy cabinet that already includes AFL and WAFL premiership medals.

Eventual winner Ben Saunders, who kicked 66 goals for South Fremantle, was the only other player in double figures to average more than three majors a game.

Hansen led Swans to 11 wins in his 12 appearances this season and spearheaded an attack that averaged 118 points in those games. In eight games without him, Swans won four and lost four, with a reduced average score of 92 points a game.

Hansen returns to the team for today's second semifinal against minor premiers Claremont after a week on the sidelines with ham- string tightness.

He has been a key factor against the Tigers.

Hansen featured in both of Swans' wins over Claremont and was absent when the Tigers took the points in round 16.

Swans coach Greg Harding said the big forward's presence would give his side a tremendous boost.

"Ash is just one of those key players in any side that he plays in," Harding said. "He not only plays great footy but he inspires his teammates as well."

Hansen was on fire early when Swans last met Claremont in round 23 and kicked two goals before his troublesome hamstring forced him out of the match before half-time.

Harding took Swans' resilience in the face of adversity in that game as a positive sign.

"We took enormous belief out of the fact that we could play nearly three quarters two weeks ago without Ash and were able to get the job done," Harding said.

"He looked super dangerous early in the game before he went off with that hamstring tightness.

"We were two players short for that game and the ability of our boys to keep pushing and kick a score big enough to beat Claremont was a really good effort."

Hansen's return forced fellow forward Adam McKinlay out of the side. Matt Jukes was picked ahead of Raymond Daniels.

Harding said 2010 premiership player Ryan Davis was close to returning from a hamstring injury and would be available for Swans' next game, be that next week's preliminary final or the grand final in a fortnight.

Midfielder Byron Schammer is back for Claremont after overcoming an ankle injury, but Andrew Ruck was unable to force his way into the side.

Ruck lost his spot to fellow ruckman Mitch Andrews last week.

The West Australian

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