WHO IS a chance to play in round 15?
In this week’s In the Mix we find the players who are giving their selectors plenty of food for thought.
Who’s going out, who’s sore, who is under the pump? Our reporters attempt to pick all the R15 ins and outs. Check it out.
There are young players performing in the SANFL for Adelaide and the balance at selection should tilt towards giving them more opportunities in the final nine rounds. Midfielders Harry Schoenberg (27 disposals and five inside 50s) and Luke Pedlar (13 and two goals), wingman Brayden Cook (17 and three clearances), and Chayce Jones (21 and five) are pushing to play, while Fischer McAsey is playing forward at the lower level and booted two goals to go with eight marks. Riley Thilthorpe’s ankle injury could open a spot for the former defender, while Lachie Gollant booted three goals in the SANFL and is another option.
R14 medical substitute: Lachlan Murphy (replaced Thilthorpe in the third quarter)
Verdict: Schoenberg, Jones and Pedlar for Thilthorpe, McHenry and Hamill. – Nathan Schmook
The Lions have at least one, and possibly two changes to make ahead of Thursday night’s blockbuster against Melbourne at the MCG. Reliable defender Darcy Gardiner will miss a month after having fluid removed from his lungs following the game against St Kilda, while skipper Dayne Zorko is still trying to overcome a hamstring injury. Gardiner could be replaced by either Jack Payne or Ryan Lester, while Rhys Mathieson, Jaxon Prior, Nakia Cockatoo and Tom Berry could all come into calculations if Zorko doesn’t get up.
R13 medical substitute: Darcy Fort (replaced Zorko)
Verdict: Payne for Gardiner and Cockatoo for Zorko if he’s not passed fit. – Michael Whiting
The key defensive crisis has worsened for the Blues, with Sam Durdin (knee) set to miss the next month. It means Brodie Kemp is likely to return to a defensive role, purely to aid the lone key back standing in Lewis Young for the foreseeable future. Jack Martin (calf) is an outside chance to play against the Dockers, but the side has options to replace him should he not get up. Lachie Fogarty was the medi-sub last week and then won 31 disposals in the VFL, while Will Setterfield continued his impressive run of reserves form with 35 touches, eight tackles and a goal. Paddy Dow (29 disposals) was again good. Josh Honey kicked four goals and is closing on a return to the senior side.
R14 medical substitute: Lachie Fogarty (replaced Martin)
Verdict: Kemp and Fogarty to replace Durdin and Martin. – Riley Beveridge
Caleb Poulter has only managed one senior appearance this year, but is in contention for another opportunity after a strong few weeks prior to the bye. Poulter collected 25 touches against Casey after 23 against Gold Coast and 29 against Werribee. Cal Brown was massive before the bye, amassing 30 disposals and 12 tackles at Casey Fields. Mid-season signing Josh Carmichael started life in black and white well with 23 disposals and 10 tackles first-up. Trey Ruscoe, Isaac Chugg and Fin Macrae were all in the 26-man squad against Melbourne on Queen’s Birthday.
R13 medical substitute: Tyler Brown (unused)
Verdict: Good luck making a change to this team after a stunning month for Collingwood. – Josh Gabelich
The Bombers ended their four-game losing streak with a much-needed and surprise win over St Kilda. Andrew McGrath (adductor) is certain to make way from that winning team, while Darcy Parish (calf) is a test to return. Kyle Langford and Will Snelling both made their returns from injury in the VFL last week, but Essendon may opt to give them another game at that level instead of rushing them over west to face West Coast. A smaller defence also worked for the Bombers against the Saints and Zach Reid‘s ankle injury would likely mean a recall for Brandon Zerk-Thatcher if Essendon wanted to go taller down back.
R14 medical substitute: James Stewart (unused)
Verdict: Parish in for McGrath. – Dejan Kalinic
Spearhead Matt Taberner will return for his first match since round 11 after one WAFL match, booting three goals and taking eight marks in a tune-up with Peel Thunder. Speedster Michael Frederick is also available for selection just in time to replace the injured Sam Switkowski after serving a one-match club ban for drinking on a six-day break. The Dockers need reinforcements on the wing after Blake Acres went down with a hamstring injury, with medical substitute Darcy Tucker and Liam Henry (16 disposals and two goals in the WAFL) the standout options. Defender Ethan Hughes (26 and one) could also remain in the team and move up the ground after playing on the wing with Peel Thunder during the bye. His ability to add another lockdown option in defence could also be important this week.
R13 medical substitute: Darcy Tucker (replaced Acres in the fourth quarter)
Verdict: Taberner, Frederick and Tucker for Switkowski, Acres and Banfield, who moves to medical substitute. – Nathan Schmook
Patrick Dangerfield is set to play his first game since round 10 when the Cats face Richmond at the MCG on Saturday. Jack Henry is in line for his first appearance since reinjuring his foot in round five. The 23-year-old returned in the VFL last weekend rather than making the trip to Perth and is ready to resume his season. Max Holmes also put his hand up to return after making a successful comeback against Werribee. Shaun Higgins has been cleared to play for the first time since round seven. Gary Rohan has exited health and safety protocols and will also be available for selection.
R14 medical substitute: Francis Evans (unused)
Verdict: Dangerfield, Henry, Holmes and Rohan to return for Luke Dahlhaus, Gryan Miers, Francis Evans and Jed Bews. – Josh Gabelich
Despite winning three games on the trot, injuries will force the Suns into some changes for Sunday’s game against Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval. Wil Powell (ankle) and Joel Jeffrey (knee) are out, while Connor Budarick (hamstring) is also unlikely to play. Jack Bowes was the medi-sub last week and can play in defence, while Rory Atkins (38 disposals) impressed in the VFL and can play either half-back or wing. Chris Burgess has kicked 13 goals in his past two VFL matches and must be a strong chance of a recall, while Malcolm Rosas Jnr (illness) is also available.
R14 medical substitute: Jack Bowes (replaced Powell)
Verdict: Bowes for Budarick, Atkins for Powell, Burgess for Jeffrey and Rosas Jnr for Sam Flanders. – Michael Whiting
More upheaval for the Giants following Saturday’s loss to the Western Bulldogs, with ruckman Braydon Preuss (suspension), Ryan Angwin (leg) and James Peatling (hamstring) all unavailable to face Collingwood on Sunday. Kieren Briggs seems the obvious replacement for Preuss after missing VFL at the weekend through illness, while Tim Taranto (32 disposals) and Phil Davis (25 disposals) both impressed in their first matches back at the lower level after long injury layoffs. Xavier O’Halloran kicked three goals from 18 touches in the Giants’ VFL loss as well.
R14 medical substitute: Jarrod Brander (replaced Preuss)
Verdict: Briggs for Preuss, Taranto for Peatling, O’Halloran for Angwin. – Michael Whiting
Mitch Lewis and Jack Gunston are both set to return after missing the trip to Western Australia prior to the bye due to injury. With Sam Frost sidelined due to a knee injury, the Hawks may consider recalling Denver Grainger-Barras or exposing mid-season recruit James Blanck for the first time on Friday night, after taking the Box Hill Hawks recruit to Perth as a travelling emergency. James Worpel has also put his hand up for another senior opportunity after two strong games in the VFL, while Connor MacDonald will also be a name discussed at match committee.
R13 medical substitute: Josh Morris (replaced Frost in the fourth quarter)
Verdict: Gunston and Lewis to both return for Jackson Callow and Frost. Hawthorn may consider Grainger-Barras or Blanck to provide James Sicily and Kyle Hartigan with support down back. – Josh Gabelich
The Demons have a ruck problem on their hands, with Max Gawn (ankle) and Majak Daw (pectoral) both unavailable for the next month. It means Luke Jackson will likely handle the bulk of the duties in a top-of-the-table clash with the Lions, though he will need a deputy. Sam Weideman could return to the fold, which would enable either the young key forward or Ben Brown to support Jackson. Steven May will return from a club-imposed suspension, with Daniel Turner (facial fracture) to go out of the side. Mitch Brown hasn’t kicked a goal since returning to the senior team, with Toby Bedford, Kade Chandler or potential debutant Bailey Laurie the options to replace him in a smaller forward line. Jake Melksham (hand) should pass a fitness test and be available, though could return through the VFL.
R13 medical substitute: Kade Chandler (replaced Turner in the third quarter)
Verdict: May, Weideman and Chandler to replace Turner, Gawn and Mitch Brown. – Riley Beveridge
The Kangaroos will be bolstered by a series of experienced inclusions, with Ben McKay (concussion) and Cam Zurhaar (foot) almost certain to return. It comes at a handy time, with captain Jack Ziebell (facial fracture) to miss the next month and Jason Horne-Francis and Lachie Young both suspended. Eddie Ford kicked two goals in his last VFL match and is another mid-forward option to come into the side, while Charlie Lazzaro has been an emergency recently and could also come back into the fold. The club will need to decide on whether Tarryn Thomas is an option, having been dropped to the VFL for failing to meet team standards recently. Aiden Bonar (hamstring) and mid-season recruit Kallan Dawson (foot) should be available to return through the VFL this week, but Jared Polec (foot) is still sidelined.
R13 medical substitute: Charlie Lazzaro (unused)
Verdict: Zurhaar, McKay and Lazzaro to replace Ziebell, Young and Horne-Francis. – Riley Beveridge
Veteran midfielder Travis Boak will be available after a stint in health and safety protocols, returning just in time to replace injured teammate Zak Butters. The Power then have a decision to make in the ruck after debutant Brynn Teakle suffered a broken collarbone on debut. Sam Hayes made way for Teakle but could return, with draftee Dante Visentini or a combination of Charlie Dixon and Jeremy Finlayson the other options. Medical substitute Xavier Duursma should be elevated into the 22, with Robbie Gray not expected to return after he was rested in round 14. Miles Bergman, Sam Mayes, Steven Motlop and Taj Schofield are pushing for selection from the SANFL.
R14 medical substitute: Xavier Duursma (replaced Teakle in the second quarter)
Verdict: Boak, Hayes and Duursma for Butters, Teakle and Frederick. – Nathan Schmook
Two big confirmed outs for Richmond this week, with former skipper Trent Cotchin (collarbone) and the versatile Noah Balta (hamstring) set to miss. Superstar Dustin Martin (illness) should be fine to come in for Cotchin, while the omitted Ivan Soldo should return to provide a presence up forward and in the ruck in Balta’s absence. Ben Miller – who is in fine form in the VFL – is likely to be the one on standby for Robbie Tarrant, in doubt with a hand injury.
R14 medical substitute: Maurice Rioli (replaced Balta)
Verdict: Martin and Soldo for Cotchin and Balta. – Sarah Black
St Kilda is set to regain skipper Jack Steele for Saturday night’s clash against Sydney after the dual All-Australian missed the past four games due to shoulder surgery. Daniel McKenzie is also available for selection after passing concussion protocols. Marcus Windhager put his hand up for an immediate recall to the 22 by collecting 32 disposals, 12 clearances and two goals for Sandringham. Jarrod Lienert also made a strong statement after being dropped, while Tom Highmore and Darragh Joyce are still trying to find another opportunity in the Saints’ back six.
R14 medical substitute: Marcus Windhager (unused)
Verdict: Steele and McKenzie to return for Ryan Byrnes and Dan Butler. – Josh Gabelich
Tom Hickey’s successful return from a toe injury in the VFL at the weekend came at the perfect time, with Peter Ladhams unavailable for Saturday night’s important clash with St Kilda due to suspension. If John Longmire is looking to makes changes to his team after a down performance against Port Adelaide, there were plenty of players at the lower level putting their hand up for selection, led by Robbie Fox, Ryan Clarke, Ben Ronke and Joel Amartey.
R14 medical substitute: Braeden Campbell (unused)
Verdict: Hickey for Ladhams, Ronke for Sam Wicks. – Michael Whiting
Star midfielder Tim Kelly trained on Tuesday and is expected to play after missing through illness in round 14, with premiership forward Liam Ryan also available. If the Eagles want to back Rhett Bazzo and Tom Barrass as the only tall defenders this week, they have an opportunity to get away without a like-for-like replacement for Jeremy McGovern against Essendon. If they need reinforcements, tall options Harry Edwards and Josh Rotham are the most likely contenders, with Luke Foley and Alex Witherden also available after being dropped. Rotham was trialled in the ruck in the WAFL and could play as a back-up to either Bailey Williams or Callum Jamieson if called up.
R14 medical substitute: Greg Clark (replaced McGovern in the second quarter)
Verdict: Kelly and Ryan for McGovern and Nelson. – Nathan Schmook
The Bulldogs will be forced into at least two changes with Tim English (concussion) and Taylor Duryea (knee) suffering injuries in the win over the Giants. Cody Weightman also appears unlikely after suffering a dislocated elbow last week. Jordon Sweet is the likely replacement for English, while Hayden Crozier can fill in for Duryea. Lachie Hunter made a strong return in the VFL after taking time away from the club and Josh Bruce also made his comeback from an ACL injury, although will likely need another run before being considered for AFL selection. Lachlan McNeil did some nice things as the sub and will be considered, while Mitch Wallis is also waiting in the wings.
R14 medical substitute: McNeil (replaced Duryea)
Verdict: Sweet, Hunter and Crozier for English, Duryea and Weightman with McNeil or Wallis to be the sub. – Ben Sutton