Getting excited yet? We’re three days sleeps from the beginning of the 2019 AFL season, and injury niggles are becoming injury concerns.
A missed training session, or pulling up sore, at this stage, can mean sitting out of round one. I’m not the most comprehensive guy in the world, and as such, haven’t listed every player on every list – just the main players who could contend for a spot in teams early in the season.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at the latest club-released injury news and what it means to your team heading into round one.
The big outs – Luke Brown (6 weeks), Paul Seedsman (1 week)
News through today that metres-gained king, Paul Seedsman will miss the opener is a blow, but with Brodie Smith back, and Wayne Milera looking like he’s in for a big season, his absence won’t hurt as much it normally would.
Many have asked whether the trio of Milera, Laird and Smith can all play in the backline successfully. Well, Seed being out releases one from that role to cover him, so I guess we’ll see if they can hang together as of next week.
And that’s about it in terms of significant players injured for the Crows. What a difference 12 months can make, huh?
The big outs – Marcus Adams (2 weeks), Darcy Gardiner (test)
The Lions are flying, injury-wise, and should go into the season opener very close to full strength. They’ll need to be, as they get the premiers first up.
The recruitment of Marcus Adams was an underrated one, and once he’s back, he’ll add some toughness to the Lions defence. This week, they’ll be forced to do without him, but I would’ve liked to have seen him helping Harris Andrews on either Kennedy (if he gets right) or Darling.
I suppose the big question will be whether the addition of Neale/Lyons offsets the loss of Beams. Personally, I’d take that trade any day of the week, but I want to see 6-7 weeks of Lyons performing after the honeymoon period expires before I judge how he’s going.
The big outs – Sam Docherty (season), Matt Kennedy (test), Matthew Kreuzer (test), Caleb Marchbank (test), Jarrod Pickett (indefinite)
Getting Kreuzer up to combat the bull-ish nature of Nankervis is a must for the Blues. Running with a ruck division of Phillips and McKay is fraught with danger, and could see them exposed, particularly if Tom Lynch is right to play as a second ruck. Can either of Phillips or McKay go with him around the ground? That said, can Lynch compete with them in ruck contests? Can Matthew Lobbe get in there and make an appearance?
Matt Kennedy’s possible absence isn’t a great sign. The poor bloke has been smashed with injuries since arriving at Princes Park.
Cripps needs some help in the guts, and Kennedy has the kind of build that is capable of taking heat from his captain at the contest. I don’t think we’ve seen anything close to what he can produce to date, and if he is carrying another injury, and has trouble shaking it, maybe we won’t for a while yet this season.
The big outs – Taylor Adams (2-3 weeks), Will Hoskin-Elliott (2 weeks), Lynden Dunn (1 week), Matt Scharenberg (indefinite), Daniel Wells (1 week)
The loss of Hoskin-Elliott is offset by the likely return of Jamie Elliott to one of the most unpredictable forward lines in the game.
I can’t believe Dunn is only a week away according to this list, but the JLT form of Darcy Moore would have Pies fans breathing a bit easier. I’d expect he’d get plenty of assistance on Hawkins whenever the Pies can spare it, and with floaters like Crisp and Maynard dropping in the hole, help should come thick and fast.
Adams’ absence from the midfield should be a bigger issue, but given the Pies’ depth in the middle, should be covered. Their wealth of midfield talent is quite astounding.
The big outs – Joe Daniher (2-3 weeks), Cale Hooker (3-4 weeks)
Those are the only two listed injuries of note for the Bombers. There are others, but they aren’t best 22. Daniher and Hooker are the Essendon bookends, and will be sorely missed.
The Bombers revert to Hurley as the key defender, but the gap between his best and worst in a purely defensive role is significant. At the other end, it all falls to Stringer and the small forward combination of Fantasia and McDonald-Tipungwuti to kick goals.
This game against GWS will be a ripper. Can’t wait to see how Shiel goes against his former team.
The big outs – Connor Blakely (6-8 weeks), Brennan Cox (unclear), Brad Hill (test), Stephen Hill (2-3 weeks), Aaron Sandilands (unclear)
So Nat Fyfe will breathe a bit easier, with Ben Jacobs ruled out for North, but his help in the guts is a bit thin, with Blakely and Stephen Hill out.
The good news is that Brad Hill, thought to be struggling to get up, will play against North.
They do have an enormous advantage up forward if Hogan and Lobb can get some decent delivery. North are decimated down back and if the Dockers can capitalise, they are a huge chance of a first-up win.
The big outs – Zach Tuohy (1 week), Lachie Fogarty (1 week), Nakia Cockatoo (test), Scott Selwood (test)
Outside Tuohy, the Cats are looking very good, injury-wise. What they miss in Tuohy, however, may be the weapon they wanted to employ most from the kick out. I was envisioning Tuohy taking off and hitting the centre square right from the kick in.
Just one mark and a quick forward entry would have had Tomahawk licking his lips. Well, we’ve got a week to wait to see that. As far as his absence goes, I love the Geelong defensive structure, and think they’ll be able to cover against most teams… but Collingwood with de Goey, Stephenson, Thomas and the returning Elliott could be a handful.
The big outs – Izak Rankine (4-6 weeks), Rory Thompson (season)
I’m a bit of a sucker for the Suns, and to be honest, I am kind of pulling for them this week.
That said, the defence is under the pump, and Thompson going down for the season is a devastating blow. Who covers? Jack Leslie is out as well, so the Suns are going to have to scramble to shut down Membrey. Luckily, they won’t have to worry about McCartin. Big ask for Ben King to fill a key defensive post so early in his career, but what an opportunity to make a statement!
I was really looking forward to seeing what Rankine could offer, but that’ll have to wait. Jack Lukosius, if there was ever a time for a young forward to have a great debut, it’s this weekend.
The big outs – Nick Haynes (1-2 weeks), Callan Ward (4-5 weeks), Jon Patton (7-9 weeks)
The absence of Haynes hurts. He is such an underrated backman, and is rarely beaten, but with Heath Shaw returning to action after his late-season injury, the Giants should be able to cover him – just.
Cal Ward out places additional pressure on Stephen Coniglio in the guts, but it will also give Tim Taranto a real chance to shine.
In 7-9 weeks, you’d think this’d be Jon Patton’s last chance to actually fulfil that enormous potential? I guess we’ll cross that harbour bridge when we get to it.
Not hearing anything about Toby Greene is a fantastic sign. Fingers crossed…
The big outs – Tom Mitchell (season), Jack Gunston (test), Tom Scully (indefinite), Chad Wingard (1-2 weeks), Grant Birchall (indefinite)
So, can we put a line through Birchall yet? I don’t know about you, but everything about his ongoing issues screams that he’s done.
Mitchell’s injury hurts like having bamboo shoved under your fingernails, and both Scully and Wingard being out means we get the Hawks of 2018, minus Mitchell, but plus Jack Scrimshaw. It doesn’t bode well.
The good news? Jaeger O’Meara looked wonderful in the JLT series. Could this be his year?
The big outs – Jeff Garlett (4 weeks), Mitch Hannan (7-11 weeks), James Harmes (test), Jake Lever (11-15 weeks), Braydon Preuss (test), Joel Smith (test)
I’d love to see Joel Smith get up after such a great JLT outing against Brisbane. This may be his opportunity to stake a claim on a place in the side.
Preuss getting up would be nice as well, giving Melbourne a couple of monsters to throw at Lycett in the ruck this week. With Ryder hurt, the Dees could really take advantage of whomever Port throws in as their back up ruckman.
I’d back Harmes to get back – seriously, he needs to get back on the horse and be a hard man after that photo of him at the pool over Summer. Tape your fingers together and get out there, James.
Haven’t heard much about Viney – guessing he’s good to go?
The big outs – Jed Anderson (unclear), Majak Daw (very unclear), Ben Jacobs (again… unclear), Robbie Tarrant (test), Marley Williams (test), Jamie Macmillan (test)
Nice ambiguity by North… hardly listing any return dates at all.
Jacobs is a massive concern. They’re saying sinusitis… my missus gets that, and I’m not sure it lasts nine months, does it? He’s not pregnant, is he?
If Tarrant can prove his fitness, it will bolster a defence that’ll struggle without him. The Roos are without a quality tall defender to help Scott Thompson (when he gets back from suspension), especially with Majak not due back any time soon. If Tarrant gets back, problem solved. If not… they have both Jesse Hogan and Rory Lobb to contend with. I’m not sure Ed Vickers-Willis is the answer.
Williams and Macmillan would be handy, but as Ben Kenobi would say, these aren’t the defenders you’re looking for.
The big outs – Charlie Dixon (unclear), Hamish Hartlett (1 week), Jarrod Lienert (1-3 weeks), Patrick Ryder (unclear), Ollie Wines (2-4 weeks).
These are outs that hurt. Dixon, Ryder and Wines… ouch.
The form of Tom Rockliff in the JLT series indicates he may slot into Wines’ midfield role well whilst the co-captain (sorry Port fans… I’m not a fan of co-captains either) recovers.
I liked what Lienert was offering off half back last season, and his dash will be missed, particularly with the exodus of Polec and Pittard. Ryan Burton is a nice replacement, and started to look more at home by JLT2.
The big outs – Josh Caddy (3-6 weeks), Jason Castagna (test), Shaun Grigg (test), Tom Lynch (1-3 weeks)
I’ve been hearing that Lynch is a chance to play this week. Whether that is in the seniors or VFL remains to be seen, but I wouldn’t be rushing him at all, and think he’ll sit it out.
Don’t sleep on the absence of Caddy – he was an absolute assassin for the Tigers last year, and with both him and Lynch missing, could we see Noah Balta get his chance as the second marking target inside 50 for the Tigers?
It looks as though Nank will have to shoulder a fair but of the ruck burden… which is nothing new. Grigg is listed as a maybe, but really, he won’t be anything other than a body at stoppages. Do the Tigers throw Soldo in to give Nank a break? Or does Lynch surprise and get up for Round One?
The big outs – Jake Carlisle (plenty of weeks), Dan Hannebery (1-3 weeks), Max King (6-12 weeks), Billy Longer (1-2 weeks) Paddy McCartin (indefinite), Dylan Roberton (season), Jack Steven (… I dunno)
They’ve been smashed in the off-season. From Hannebery’s hamstring “awareness” to McCartin’s concussion, Carlisle’s back and Roberton’s heart… this has been a bit of a disaster.
It’ll be interesting to see how quickly Jack Steven gets back, as he is vital to the Saints’ drive out of the guts. Anyone think he might sneak in this week? Maybe not after missing a few weeks training. He’d be handy.
The big outs – Lance Franklin (test), Ollie Florent (test), Daniel Menzel (1-2 weeks), Nick Smith 2-3 weeks), Sam Naismith (3-7 weeks… a nice but of room to move there, huh?)
All eyes are on Buddy as he races the clock, but similar to Josh Kennedy at West Coast… why push him?
Sam Naismith’s injury means that Callum Sinclair will have to carry a bigger load, but as they’re playing the Bulldogs this week, with their terrible ruck division, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
Ollie Florent’s foot injury, that has him listed as only a possibility, may open the door for Ryan Clarke to have an influence after an excellent JLT series.
The big outs – Nic Nat (second half of the season) Jamie Cripps (1-2 weeks)
Josh Kennedy is racing to be ready, but the Eagles would be foolish to rush such a vital piece into the side when a long season looms before them. Besides, that Jack Darling bloke can play a bit, right?
Jamie Cripps is an underrated out. He was excellent in 2018, and his ability to bob up and hurt teams will be missed. He sat in seventh spot overall last season in terms of goal assists – something that is rarely mentioned. Luckily, in terms of forwards who can have an impact, the Eagles are blessed.
Whether Sheppard can get right in time will be interesting, but again, how spoiled are the Eagles down back to have such quality around his spot, covering? It’s a little ridiculous.
The return of Gaff cannot be understated. It’s like adding a Ferrari to a garage already crammed full of expensive sports cars… and a truck named McGovern.
The big outs – Tom Boyd (4-6 weeks), Dale Morris (season) Jason Johannisen (2-3 weeks) Bailey Dale (1-2 weeks)
The recent ACL injury to Dale Morris means a shake up for the Dogs is on the way. In the JLT series, Aaron Naughton was thrown forward, but the backline now has a gaping hole, so I would expect him to slot into defence again as we open the season.
Matt Suckling and Tom Liberatore both being fit helps tremendously, and the addition of Sam Lloyd could help when Naughton goes back.
Personally, I think Naughton is better suited back there, and didn’t the Dogs recruit Josh Schache to fill that forward line void? Johannisen’s run off half back will be missed, but really, all you have to do to curtail that is have someone stand next to him, as history has showed us.
And there you have it. Got any more to add – feel free. Think a player’s absence will be more prevalent than I do? Less prevalent? Let us know.
Now, let’s hope this is the last of the injuries before round one, and the boys can get stuck in.
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