Two debutants confirmed, Sidebottom confirmed, Hibberd dropped

The long awaited debuts of two Essendon and Brisbane Lions prospects was finally confirmed on Thursday while Mitch Hibberd’s omission will leave a lot of coaches disappointed.

Ins: Harry McKay, Luke Breust, Tim O’Brien, Jonathon Ceglar, Jarman Impey,  Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, Dylan Shiel, James Stewart, Sam Draper, Tom Cutler, Alex Witherden, Cameron Ellis-Yolmen, Connor Ballenden, Noah Answerth, Sam Skinner

Outs: Mitch McGovern (injured), Darren Minchington, Josh Morris, Keegan Brooksby, Mitch Lewis, Conor McKenna (managed), Jayden Laverde (injured), Kyle Langford (suspended), Mitchell Hibberd, Shaun McKernan (managed), Archie Smith (injured), Daniel McStay (suspended), Daniel Rich (injured), Ryan Lester (injured), Thomas Berry

Big Hawks ruckman Jonathon Ceglar (AF $571k SC $415k RUCK/FWD) returns along with pre-season popular pick Brandon Zerk-Thatcher (AF $316k SC $189k DEF) and midfield dynamo Dylan Shiel (AF $751k SC $557k MID) after suspension.

The big news is the naming of Essendon and Brisbane debutants in Sam Draper (AF $170k SC $123k RUCK) and Connor Ballenden (AF $170k SC $123k FWD).

James Stewart (AF $316k SC $293k FWD) and Sam Skinner (AF $232k SC $111k FWD) are both relatively cheap, having played AFL footy before.

After 12 months out with an ACL injury, Jarman Impey (AF $530k SC $402k DEF) is back for Hawthorn although his value remains a bit pricey.

Hawthorn Football GM Graham Wright said: “Jars has worked really hard to get to this moment and we couldn’t be happier for him. “He brings a real energy to our group so hopefully that will translate on Friday night and the boys can be really energised by his return.”

Ballenden is a 200cm key forward who’ll play some ruck. He was pick 43 in the 2017 AFL Draft for the Lions and has been close to a debut all year.

Lions coach Chris Fagan said: “He has done some hard yards over the last three years and I’m sure when he gets his opportunity that he will step up to the plate,’’ he said.

“In particular over the last six months he has been doing a lot of ruck practice as well as forward craft. He can come in and fulfil the role that Archie (Smith) did last week as far as we are concerned.

“A few weeks ago, he kicked four goals against West Coast in a reserves practice game and he’s been rucking really well.’’

Draper is a highly touted ruck prospect who’s been set back by an ACL injury last year. He was the number one pick of the 2016 rookie draft.

Bombers coach John Worsfold said: “With Draper playing his first game, we think he can share the ruck load and not have to do the whole lot, so ‘T-Bell’ (Bellchambers) will help him out there. They’ll both get some stints up forward.

“We’re very excited to see what he’s (Draper) going to bring to the team.”

Previously popular midfield option Steele Sidebottom (AF $800k SC $551k MID/FWD*) will play for Collingwood against Fremantle after four games out suspended.

Pies coach Nathan Buckley said: “He’s in. Getting Steele back will be important for us, both in an experience capacity and in a leadership capacity.

“He’s served his penance. He’s worked pretty hard on the track and we’ll welcome him back on-field.”

The jungle drums are beating on Zac Williams (AF $640k SC $479k DEF) returning from a hamstring injury which has kept him out for the past month. Williams has a high breakeven in AFL Fantasy and SuperCoach.

Giants teammate Lachie Whitfield said: “Zac plays fast and he’s obviously an elite kick. He’s got good speed with ball in hand, so it’s an added boost.”

Joel Selwood (AF $622k SC $505k MID) seems unlikely to return from a hamstring injury for Geelong against West Coast on Saturday, with coach Chris Scott sitting on the fence, with a slight lean to him missing out.

“My suspicion is that he will be available,” Scott said. “(But) whether he plays or not is a separate question.

“In a situation where we have a normal season with normal breaks, then my suspicion would be that he would be available to play. But it’s a lot more complicated this time. We just need to take the extra 24 hours before we make that decision.”

Adam Simpson and Rhyce Shaw will speak to the media, while we’ve got two games and Saturday teams to be announced.

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