AFL: Western Bulldogs star Josh Bruce pictured running after ACL injury

Jasper BruceNCA NewsWire
The injury left Bruce (centre) shattered. Pic: Michael Klein
Camera IconThe injury left Bruce (centre) shattered. Pic: Michael Klein Credit: News Corp Australia

Western Bulldogs star Josh Bruce has taken a huge step on the road to recovery from his heartbreaking ACL injury by running at training for the first time this week.

Bruce was second in the Coleman Medal tally when injury struck him down with the cruellest of timing – the 29-year-old limped from the ground in the dying seconds of his 150th AFL game in round 21.

He underwent ACL reconstruction and, after helping lay the foundations for the Bulldogs’ success in September, was forced to watch his teammates’ charge to the grand final from the couch.

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On Friday, Bruce was pictured running for the first time almost six months after his injury, and was joined by Toby McLean, who is recovering from an ACL injury of his own.

“Running laps is actually not too bad,” Bruce wrote on Instagram.

Both men are targeting return dates close to the end of 2022 and could feature in the Bulldogs’ quest to avenge last year’s grand final heartbreak.

Bruce’s injury is likely to open up opportunities for former No. 1 draft pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and son-of-a-gun Sam Darcy to make their mark up forward.

Ugle-Hagan made his senior debut towards the end of the 2021 season but had limited opportunities to meet the lofty expectations of AFL punters.

Darcy, meanwhile, is blessed with father Luke’s imposing height and is tipped as key forward material on the big stage.

The Bulldogs could also consider using new recruit Tim O’Brien in the forward line in Bruce’s absence.

The journeyman former Hawk is comfortable in the backs or up forward, and notably took a screamer in the goalsquare against the Giants in round 15.

The Bulldogs will meet their 2021 Grand Final foe Melbourne in the first game of the AFL season on March 16.

Originally published as AFL: Western Bulldogs star Josh Bruce pictured running after ACL injury

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