Dockers, Roos rest AFL stars as promised
Fremantle and North Melbourne stayed true to their word and stripped their AFL line-ups of star players on Thursday night at the selection table.
And in what will likely mark the end of his AFL career, Essendon stalwart Dustin Fletcher was not named for the Bombers.
The Kangaroos controversially flagged their intention to follow the Dockers’ lead on Thursday morning and rest several key players for the last round of the season.
A defiant Brad Scott dropped a total of nine players – Nick Dal Santo, Jarrad Waite, Michael Firrito, Andrew Swallow, Shaun Higgins, Todd Goldstein, Sam Wright, Ben Cunnington and Scott Thompson – for the Roos’ clash on Friday night with Richmond.
Adding to the intrigue, only Dal Santo, Waite and Goldstein were officially listed as ‘managed’, with the rest listed with various injuries as the reason for their omissions.
North’s oldest and most-experienced player, 37-year-old Brent Harvey, was not rested.
The Tigers, also bound for the finals, took a different selection tack and made just one change, strengthening their team with the addition of captain Trent Cotchin, returning from a back injury.
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon went two better than the Roos and told 11 players, or half his team, that they wouldn’t have to make the trip to Adelaide to take on the Power on Saturday, with two of those changes due to injury.
Skipper Matthew Pavlich, Luke McPharlin, Aaron Sandilands, Michael Johnson, David Mundy, Lee Spurr, Danyle Pearce, Stephen Hill and Chris Mayne have all been rested, while Cameron Sutcliffe (shoulder) and Jon Griffin (hamstring) are injured.
Three Fremantle players – Ethan Hughes, Brady Grey and Connor Blakely – will make their AFL debuts.
The Power made two unforced changes for their last game of the season, with Jay Schulz and Jake Neade the additions.
The Western Bulldogs weren’t quite so dramatic but did rest veterans Bob Murphy, Dale Morris and Matthew Boyd for their trip north to take on Brisbane.
Adelaide need North Melbourne to defeat the Tigers to boost their chances of hosting a home final but the gutted Roos’ line-up is unlikely to be able help the South Australian club out.
The Crows, however, resisted the urge to rest any players and named an unchanged line-up for their clash with Geelong.
The Cats added Mathew Stokes, Josh Cowan and George Horlin-Smith for Saturday’s game, providing retiring pair James Kelly and Stokes the opportunity to farewell fans in what could be the final game for a few other veterans.
West Coast regain Chris Masten, Sharrod Wellingham, Sam Butler and Jackson Nelson as they look to lock up second spot with a win over St Kilda, who have added Farren Ray and Jack Lonie.
Injury-stricken Carlton regain Andrew Carrazzo for his final AFL game against Hawthorn, who have included Sam Mitchell and Paul Puopolo.
The main point of interest out the two games on Sunday had been whether Fletcher could throw off a groin injury, but he isn’t even named in an extended 25-man squad to face Collingwood and looks set to finish his career on 400 matches.