Whitfield hip injury, Oliver ruled out, Grundy set for new role, Zorko & Rich miss, Culley among three debutants

Clayton Oliver will officially miss this weekend’s game but looks likely available for Round 19, while Lachie Whitfield is a surprise absentee due to a hip flexor problem and there’s a raft of debutants.

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TEAM NEWS (key ins/outs)

Key Ins: B.Smith, Khamis, Hinge, A.Johnson, Hopper, K.Coleman, H-Francis, Vlastuin, Sonsie, Menzie (ext), J.Serong (ext), Jamieson (ext), Witherden (ext), Culley

Key Outs: Bedendo, McComb, Windhager (HS), M.Crouch, Hately, Whitfield (inj), C.Brown, Tunstill, Michael, M.Rioli, Rosas (inj), Naitanui (inj), Oliver (inj), Bowey, McEntee

Key Holds: Soligo, Parnell, Carmichael, W.Hayes, Spicer, Hobbs (ext), D’Ambrosio (ext), Oea (ext), C.Macdonald, Clark (ext), Bazzo, Hough, J.Burgoyne (ext), Mead (ext)

Possible Subs/Emgs: Cleary, Hately, W.Kelly, S.Durdin, C.Stephens, Preuss, C.Brown, Tunstill, K.Dawson, S.Ryan

Lachie Whitfield (AF $753k SC $462k D/M) is a shock absentee. GWS said: “Lachie Whitfield will miss Saturday’s match with a hip flexor injury he’s been managing in recent weeks.”

There’s also rookie cover carnage with Dom Bedendo (AF $222k SC $123k FWD), Marcus Windhager (AF $375k SC $241k M/F), James Tunstill (AF $259k SC $144k MID) and Maurice Rioli (AF $281k SC $203k M/F) all losing their spots, while Jase Burgoyne (AF $253k SC $117k D/M) is on an extended bench. Windhager is in health and safety protocols, while the others were omitted.

Josh Carmichael (AF $208k SC $102k M/F) has held for Collingwood, while Massimo D’Ambrosio (AF $329k SC $195k DEF) is on an extended bench after a cork last round.

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DEBUTANT ALERTS

Mid-Season Draft top pick Jai Culley (AF $190k SC $102k M/F) will debut for West Coast. He is a 19-year-old 193cm midfielder who had 16 disposals and seven tackles in the WAFL last weekend. Eagles coach Adam Simpson said: He’s got a mature size body and still working out WAFL football and AFL training.”

Tyler Sonsie (AF $236k SC $117k MID) will make his Richmond debut. He was pick 28 in the 2021 AFL Draft and is a 19-year-old 181cm ball-winning midfielder who had 31 possessions in his last VFL game.

Collingwood have given a debut to Ash Johnson (AF $190k SC $123k FWD) who was pick three in last year’s Mid-Season Draft. He is a 24-year-old 193cm forward who had 16 disposals and kicked two goals in the VFL last weekend.

UPDATES

Clayton Oliver (AF $957k SC $723k MID) has officially been ruled out with a thumb injury but Dees coach Simon Goodwin is confident he’ll be available next week.

Goodwin said: “Clayton is going to make the trip but he’s not going to play… It’s just not worth the risk at the moment. He’s had the surgery, he’s in a really good spot but we’re going to give him the week off. He’ll miss this week but he’ll be right the following week.”

Dayne Zorko (AF $637k SC $391k D/M) and Daniel Rich (AF $735k SC $538k DEF) will both miss another game due to hamstring injuries. Lions coach Chris Fagan said: “They all trained today but we’re not going to take the risk with any of them.”

Keidean Coleman (AF $619k SC $437k D/F) looks likely to be available after missing last round due to health and safety protocols. Fagan said: “All the boys they have had COVID are available, so that’s good.”

Brodie Grundy (AF $802k SC $544k RUC) is closing in on a return in the next few weeks but Pies coach Craig McRae indicated he may have a new role after a long lay-off. McRae said: “He’s missed 12 weeks of footy. I have spoken to Brodie about playing more forward, he’s been in the line meeting with the forwards. How much forward? I’m not sure.”

Young ruck Samson Ryan (AF $190k SC $123k F/R) comes into contention given Ivan Soldo will miss and with Toby Nankervis doubtful. Hardwick said: “Yeah definitely. He’s well and truly in the equation. He’s been in really good form at VFL level, we’ve been really happy with what he’s produced.”

On Toby Nankervis (AF $719k SC $546k RUC), Hardwick said: “Nank we’re just going to see how he goes. He might be a chance… He’ll train today.”

Hardwick also updated on Dustin Martin (AF $592k SC $430k M/F) who is out with a hamstring injury. He said: “He won’t play this week, but we’re reasonably confident he’ll push for next week. He’s probably still in the doubtful category.”

Simpson also clarified Luke Strnadica (AF $248k SC $102k RUC) will no longer be available for selection moving forward. He said: “He’s moved on (stepped away from club), it wasn’t the right timing for Luke. Obviously respect the situation he is in and he is going to move to the next step in his life.”

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