Demons set for bulk changes, Rankine ruled out

Most clubs were preoccupied with the Big Freeze today, although with the clock rapidly ticking towards Round Two there’s a bit to digest.

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin fronted the press this morning, hinting at numerous changes to their 22 for their clash with Carlton after losing to West Coast in Round One.

Popular duo Toby Bedford (AF $175k, SC $123k – FWD) and Kysaiah Pickett (AF $259k, SC $157k – FWD) may both be in the gun, with Goodwin revealing Nathan Jones, Christian Salem, Joel Smith and Mitch Hannan could all return.

“We’re probably going have 7-8 guys who weren’t available Round 1, available to play,” Goodwin said.

“Nathan Jones is fine. He’s done all the work & performed strongly in match sim. Salem will be available. Joel Smith, Hannan, Lever, list goes on (all available).”

It’s worth noting Lever did play Round One so he won’t take up a new spot. Others possibly under pressure to hold their spots are Charlie Spargo, Mitch Brown and Jay Lockhart.

Under-priced pick Harley Bennell (AF $224k, SC $123k – MID) is also a chance after a long-term calf injury, although there is an expectation the Dees will err on the side of caution with him, despite impressing in match simulation.

“It’s very tempting (to play him),” Goodwin said. “We’d always thought he’d be ready mid-year which happens to be Round Two. He’s done everything right.

“He’s putting the pressure on. It’ll be a fairytale story. We’ll work with the medical team to make a decision but he’s going to be around the mark. He’s very close.

“We’ll take a cautious approach. We want to set him up for the whole season. It’s an interesting discussion.”

Another popular selection Izak Rankine (AF $170k, SC $123k – FWD) from Gold Coast has been ruled out of their Round Two clash with West Coast due to a hamstring problem.

Rankine is owned by 14% of AFL Fantasy coaches and 20% of SuperCoaches but it’ll doesn’t appear he’ll be debuting any time soon.

SUNS GM of football Jon Haines said: “He’s getting closer there’s no doubt. He hasn’t quite hit his speed markers just yet – it’s been a really short escalation over the last three or four weeks and we want to set him up for a sustained run at it.

“He’ll be a couple of weeks away and we’ll make sure that we can hit those speed markers over the coming weeks and set him up for a really consistent year.”

Haines hinted Sam Flanders (AF $250k, SC $162k – MID/FWD) could break into the SUNS’ 22 for the Eagles clash, which will excite coaches desperate for rookie options, although he isn’t bargain basement.

“Certainly Sam’s put his hand up,” Haines said. “There’s no doubt he’s had a terrific block of pre-season but he was also really impressive during the shutdown period as well.

“We’re excited about him and he’ll certainly be up for selection.”

Young Port Adelaide forward Mitch Georgiades (AF $258k, SC $130k – FWD) may have done OK in Round One but he could miss out in the Round Two showdown.

He’s been listed in the club’s weekly media update with a calf injury and, ambiguously, to be assessed.

Scott Lycett (AF $611k, SC $550k – RUCK) is listed as a test with a hamstring problem, which could open the door for a young ruck option.

North Melbourne’s Jed Anderson has declared he’s fit to play despite training away from the club recently due to the birth of his new daughter. Anderson did play Round One.

Anderson’s availability may impact popular Kangas mid Aiden Bonar (AF $333k, SC$202k MID/FWD).

Hawthorn will still make a call on Jaeger O’Meara (AF $740k, SC $491k – MID) later this week after suffering a minor forehead fracture. Alastair Clarkson is due to speak to media on Thursday.

But teammate Isaac Smith spoke today and said: “He’s been able to do everything (at training) other than be contacted in the head. Conditioning won’t be an issue.”

O’Meara’s selection may impact popular pick Tom Mitchell (AF $676k, SC $630k – MID), if Geelong opt to use Cameron Guthrie as a tagger, although he could be in their sights anyway.

Huge media day where we’ll learn a lot about selection with coaches John Longmire, Rhyce Shaw, Chris Scott, Leon Cameron and Nathan Buckley all fronting the press.

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