Hartmann eyes round four return
Ghosts officials were expecting Hartmann to line-up against Kyogle in a fortnight's time, but physios yesterday told him the following home match against Ballina was a more realistic option.
The prognosis was both a blessing and a curse for the match-hungry Hartmann who, at one point, was told surgery could be considered in an attempt to mend the broken metatarsal.
However, physios said Hartmann's injury, suffered during a trial match against Casino three weeks ago, had reacted well to the plaster case covering his hand.
"I'm pretty sure I broke it when I went into a tackle," Hartmann said.
"It was in the first half and I think my hand impacted with the guy's elbow."
The former Group One player of the year said he was frustrated his recovery time was taking longer than he was first told.
"They did x-rays two weeks after I did the injury and they said it was worse than they initially thought," he said.
"I could tell something was wrong because my wrist just didn't feel right.
"Since they put the plaster on it, it has felt right."
Ghosts first grade coach Col Speed said Hartmann's absence was not a 'complete disaster' and expected him to return when he was fit and ready for action.
"It is not as good as we first thought ... but it has given the other boys a chance to step up," he said.
"Aaron has a lot of common sense and won't put his body in the way of harm."
Even though the absence from first grade action was 'killing' him, the silver lining of Hartmann's injury cloud is the extra attention he has been able to dedicate to his coaching career with the under-18's Ghosts squad.
"I'm really not used to being on the sidelines ... last year i played every game," he said.
"I've been doing some training with the squad ... doing some running and exercise.
"(But) the time off has helped me with the under-18's."
Speed hailed Hartmann's recent role in the coaching structure, saying it was like 'having an extra assistant coach on the paddock'.
Hartmann's injury setback has also left a hole in the Northern NSW Thunderbolts with the Ghosts centre unlikely to have recuperated before the NSW Country Championships in Lismore early next month.