R2 Team News: Debutants galore, shock Saint axing

Thursday is team news day and we’ve got a bunch of debutants and arguably not as much carnage as expected.

KEY INS

Darcy Cameron, Ben Keays, Ned McHenry, Tom Doedee, Marc Pittonet, Harley Bennell, Luke Jackson, Trent Rivers, Tom Berry, Laitham Vandermeer, Aiden Bonar (26), Tristan Xerri (26), Chad Warner (26), Dylan Stephens (26)

Plenty of these inclusions were expected but debutants, McHenry, Berry and Vandermeer are welcome surprises, while we’ll wait until Friday to see if Xerri, Warner and Stephens make the final cut for their teams.

KEY OUTS
Dylan Roberton, Sam Sturt, Mitch Georgiades, Ben Davis, Toby Bedford, Deven Robertson, Sam Naismith, Brandon Zerk-Thatcher

Roberton’s axing from the Saints is the big shock which will leave plenty of coaches re-thinking their trading plans. Likewise, Naismith officially being ruled due to a hamstring injury creates a dilemma.

RETAINED
Connor Budarick, Fischer McAsey, Kysaiah Pickett, Brandon Starcevich, Isaac Cumming, Ben Cavarra (26), Tom Green (26), Justin McInerney (26)

Plenty of coaches will be pleasantly surprised to see Budarick and McAsey’s names in final 22s, although Cavarra, Green and McInerney haven’t survived the chop yet as they’ve all been named on benches for Sunday games. Cumming is a starter for GWS as he’s been named at half-back.

DEBUTANTS
Ned McHenry
(AF $170k, SC $123k – MID) is a small forward who can play through the midfield, likely wing. He stands at 179cm and was pick 16 in the 2018 AFL Draft.

Crows skipper Rory Sloane said: “He’s worked his ass off, trained probably harder than anyone I’ve seen come into the footy club. Trains with aggression and plays with aggression.”

Laitham Vandermeer (AF $170k, SC $123k – MID/FWD) is a hard-running defender who went pick 37 in the 2018 AFL Draft.

Dogs coach Luke Beveridge said: “We’ve had some struggles with your body. You’ve worked hard in rehab. It’s been a pleasant surprise. We’re all looking forward to seeing you play.”

Tom Berry (AF $170k, SC $123k – FWD) is a 185cm defender who can also play midfield. He was pick 36 in the 2018 AFL Draft.

Addressing Berry and the team, Lions coach Chris Fagan said: “I know we’ll get 100% contest and 100% pressure. You’ll go flat out for the team and play your role to the best of your ability.”

SHORT SHORTS
New Freo recruit Blake Acres (AF $584k, SC $384k – MID/FWD) looks set to slot into their Round Two side but suffered a calf injury at training which has kept him out of their final 22 much to many coaches’ frustration.

Popular defender Brandon Zerk-Thatcher (AF $170k, SC $189k – DEF) breached the Return to Play protocol and has been suspended for Round Two. Whether he regains his spot in Round Three remains to be seen.

Sydney co-captain Dane Rampe floated the idea that Isaac Heeney (AF $684k, SC $510k – MID/FWD) may play forward in the absence of Lance Franklin and Sam Reid which may impact his scoring.

TOMORROW
Adam Simpson, Ken Hinkley and David Teague will front the press, so we’ll get the inside word on Nic Naitanui’s match minutes and plenty more.

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