GWS veteran Steve Johnson will be named in the side’s 25-man squad, but coach Leon Cameron says a fellow star Giant won’t face Adelaide in Thursday night’s qualifying final.
GIANTS coach Cameron confirmed that Johnson would be in the 25 to face the Crows, but remained tight-lipped as to whether the Norm Smith medallist would make the final 22-man team.
However Cameron revealed that fellow small forward Devon Smith wouldn’t be named for the clash against Adelaide due to an ongoing knee issue that has plagued him during the back-half of the season.
Cameron said he could appreciate the public interest in Johnson as he has been a “big finals player”.
“Probably over the past couple of weeks his performances haven’t been to the level that it needed to be at — and he’s the first one to walk into the office and say ‘I haven’t been playing some great footy’,” Cameron said.
“We know he’s had to juggle his injury with his knee, but whether he plays or he doesn’t play, he’ll be participating somewhere along the way in September action.”
Johnson will be joined in the 25-man squad by Matt DeBoer, Tim Taranto, Harrison Himmelberg and Harry Perryman.
Cameron said Smith’s injury had hampered him during the back-half of the season.
“He is definitely starting to get a little rhythm, but we feel that the first final against Adelaide over here, you’ve got to be able to go the distance. And Devon said to us he didn’t think he could go the distance and needed another week to prepare, so we’ve gone down that path and we won’t take any unfit players in,” Cameron said.
ADELAIDE is set to make a last-minute call on star Rory Sloane, but Taylor Walker, Sam Jacobs and Daniel Talia are certain starters and will be named in Wednesday night.
Cameron said he was planning for Sloane to play against his side.
The teams for the remaining three finals will be released on Thursday night, with ample conjecture around a key ESSENDON trio.
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Michael Hurley (calf), Orazio Fantasia (hamstring) and Cale Hooker (bone bruising) have been in doubt throughout the week, with the Bombers hopeful rather than confident of their availability.
SYDNEY is expected to welcome back Dan Hannebery (ankle) and Tom Papley (knee) from injury, but will face a selection conundrum around big-man trio Sam Naismith, Callum Sinclair and Kurt Tippett,
For Friday night’s qualifying final at the MCG, RICHMOND’S Josh Caddy is a chance to return from the hamstring injury he suffered in the Round 21 loss to the Cats. With Jacob Townsend in excellent goalkicking touch, Jack Graham and Oleg Markov are the players most vulnerable to losing their spots.
At GEELONG, Rhys Stanley, Jackson Thurlow, Darcy Lang and Zach Guthrie are all in the mix to play. Thurlow was omitted from the team in Round 23 and collected a team-high 24 disposals in the VFL.
PORT ADELAIDE might be tempted to re-call utility Jackson Trengove for its elimination final at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday night, with Tom Jonas still sidelined due to suspension.
As for WEST COAST, it’s unlikely to risk Nic Naitanui but Willie Rioli has been mooted as a shock inclusion.
FINALS WEEK 1 TEAMS (ALL TIMES AEST)
First Qualifying Final: Adelaide v GWS Giants
Thursday September 6 at Adelaide Oval (7.50pm)
Second Qualifying Final: Geelong Cats v Richmond
Friday September 7 at MCG (7.50pm)
Second Elimination Final: Sydney Swans v Essendon
Saturday September 8 at SCG (4.20pm)
First Elimination Final: Port Adelaide v West Coast Eagles
Saturday September 8 at Adelaide Oval