Bristly Davidson back to take on Taipans

BASKETBALL 

Larry Davidson's hair is longer and slicked back, the beard a little bushier.

Other than that, the star Wollongong player looks like the same multi-skilled centre that last played on December 7 against Perth.

That was the night Davidson's rib broke after taking a knee from Perth's Michael Dunigan.

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The 29-year-old has sat out four games, three of which were Hawks losses.

But he has trained well this week and been his usual vocal, mobile self on the court.

Barring a practice mishap today, Davidson will make his return in tomorrow night's home meeting with the Cairns Taipans.

"It felt all right at training on Monday and if it feels good after [today's session], then I'll probably play," Davidson said.

"My fitness will be terrible but I suppose it's better than nothing.

"I couldn't do anything for four weeks. If I did cardio and started breathing heavily then that wouldn't let the bone heal.

"Doc [team doctor Robyn Yarrow] said to just sit there basically, so that's what I did."

Davidson said he hadn't been bothered by any pain for the past week.

"I don't notice it, which is good," he said.

"I asked Doc if I should wear padding and he said if I had to wear padding I shouldn't be out there.

"I didn't feel it at training and hopefully I'm good to go."

Davidson's imminent return is uplifting news for a team with six losses in its past seven games.

Wollongong have been dominated under the boards during their slide from first to fourth.

Davidson - at 209 centimetres the tallest player on the team roster - should provide immediate help.

"When we've rebounded well we've usually won the game," he said.

"It's the type of thing where you're always conscious of it, but when you miss a couple of rebounds then you start thinking about it, and everything just seems to landslide after that.

"There's lots of things that go into it. We have to box out better than we have been.

"Gordo [coach Gordie McLeod] showed us on the tape, and you think you're boxing out but you're just turning and looking at the ring, and guys are just coming over your back.

"We just have to get back to that strong, aggressive boxing out that we were doing earlier in the season. It's really been a focus at training.

"Especially against Cairns, they board pretty hard, so the rebound battle will have a pretty big outcome on the game."

While the Hawks (8-6) haven't won a lot lately, the Taipans are bottom of the ladder on 4-10.

Not that Davidson has kept tabs on his team's adversaries.

"They put the ladder on the scoreboard in our last game and that was the first time all year I'd seen it," he said.

"I was a bit surprised to see where some teams were.

"Obviously I didn't know any other team's record except for ours, so I didn't really know what was happening.

"I know the last time we played Cairns they beat us pretty good up there.

"Records show something but it's not everything.

"Last year our record was terrible but we went over to New Zealand and beat [the eventual champions] by 15.

"There's no easy team and you can't take a night off ... They'll be coming down to try and kick our arse."

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