Port Adelaide veterans Brad Ebert and Justin Westhoff still have a place in the Power’s finals plans Ken Hinkley says, as North Melbourne recall Jared Polec to take on his old side.
The Power and Kangaroos have both made three changes to their sides for the Saturday night clash at Metricon Stadium.
Ebert, Westhoff and Riley Bonner have been omitted from the high-flying Port side, with Dan Houston, Kane Farrell and Steven Motlop coming in.
Hinkley said Ebert and Westhoff were still in the Power’s plans.
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“Like anyone they’ve got challenges and they’ve got to respond and when they’re in the side they’ve got to play well enough to keep their spot,” Hinkley said.
“Westy and Brad are senior players who have been around for a long time but they have the same challenges as any player.
“Westy will earn the opportunity to sit down at the right time and reflect on his season and where he’s at and what he needs to do from there, it will be about where Justin thinks he’s at as much as anyone, but right now I need Westy focusing on playing well because at some point in the next few weeks hopefully Westy will be a part of the team.”
Rhys Shaw has also made some big changes for the Kangaroos, in the wake of a dismal showing against North Melbourne.
Along with Polec, who has played just twice since Round 8 after being dropped twice by the Kangaroos, captain Jack Ziebell and debutant Flynn Perez come into North’s side.
Majak Daw, Paul Ahern and Tom Murphy have been omitted.
Polec’s return to the side – after debate about his present and future at the Kangaroos after coming to the club on a lucrative deal from Port Adelaide – comes after he played for Collingwood in a scratch match last week.
Shaw refuted any suggestion that he had demeaned the big-money recruit, saying it was the only way Polec could play footy outside of the senior side because of North’s injury woes.
“Obviously, there’s been a bit of noise around Jared,” Shaw said.
“He played really well last week in the scratch match and deserves his spot in the side and I’m really happy to have him back. He’s a real asset for us and someone who can really help us this week.
“We’ve been having some really open and honest conversations and … Jared’s really clear on where he sat with me and where he needed to get to.”
Key Hawk wants to play but Clarko has other ideas
Hawthorn star Jaeger O’Meara is pushing his case to play again this season after “disruptive” hand surgery, but coach Alastair Clarkson says any hint of risk of further re-injury could sideline him until 2021.
O’Meara had a plate inserted into his hand last month and is due to train today in an effort to prove his fitness for Sunday’s clash with St Kilda.
He’s “getting closer” Clarkson said, but he is adamant that the midfielder won’t be risked.
“If he trains today and that hand is of no discomfort to him, then he might be a chance to play, but we’ll wait and determine that.”
Clarkson said his midfield had been “disrupted” by injuries to key players such as O’Meara, and that there was a conscious approach to “make sure that Jaeger is absolutely right”.
“He wants to play, because he wants to be able to come in and be able to help our midfield,” he said.
“He’s an experienced player and one of our leaders, but we also are mindful that with only two games to go after this one, if there’s any risk of him doing further damage, there’s no way he’s going to play.
“But neither he nor the doctors are telling us that’s the case. He’s had more disruptive surgery than some of the other hand injuries we’ve seen this year and that’s why it’s taken a bit longer than what we anticipated, but we’re just not going to take a risk with it.
“If that means he doesn’t play again this year, then so be it.
“But he’s hopeful and so are we that it could even be this week, but probably more likely next week, I think.”
Fellow ballwinner Isaac Smith has also been sidelined with a shoulder injury sustained in Round 11 and is another who Clarkson said would not be risked prematurely.
“We were hopeful that was only going to be a one-week injury, but there is a lot of bleeding into that joint that just took a long time to dissipate,” he said.
“That’s been a little bit unfortunate.
“But injuries happen. It gives other guys an opportunity – James Cousins has had a chance, Conor Glass and these sort of guys.
“It’s a big step up to try and fill the shoes of those more experienced guys who have been doing this for a long period of time. But they’ve had some exposure, and while it hasn’t necessarily helped us win, it certainly will help us in terms of shaping our list as we move forward.”
Hawthorn premiership player Shane Crawford on Friday called for Clarkson to not “even try to win a game” and instead play more younger players like Finn Maguinness and Dylan Moore.
ROUND 16 TEAMS
NORTH MELBOURNE v PORT ADELAIDE
Saturday September 5, 7:40pm at Metricon Stadium
B: J.Walker, R.Tarrant, F.Perez
HB: S.Atley, B.McKay, L.McDonald
C: T.Dumont, J.Simpkin, J.Polec
HF: M.Wood, N.Larkey, J.Ziebell
F: B.Scott, C.Zurhaar, L.Hosie
FOLL: T.Goldstein, S.Higgins, J.Anderson
I/C: M.Williams, L.Davies-Uniacke, E.Vickers-Willis, A.Hall
EMG: P.Ahern, T.Murphy, M.McGuinness, T.Campbell
IN: F.Perez, J.Polec, J.Ziebell
OUT: M.Daw, P.Ahern, T.Murphy (all omitted)
B: R.Burton, T.McKenzie, D.Houston
HB: H.Hartlett, T.Jonas, D.Byrne-Jones
C: X.Duursma, O.Wines, K.Amon
HF: S.Powell-Pepper, T.Marshall, Z.Butters
F: C.Rozee, C.Dixon, R.Gray
FOLL: S.Lycett, T.Rockliff, T.Boak
I/C: S.Motlop, T.Clurey, K.Farrell, C.Sutcliffe
EMG: M.Bergman, J.Garner, W.Drew, B.Woodcock
IN: D.Houston, S.Motlop, K.Farrell
OUT: R.Bonner, B.Ebert, J.Westhoff (all omitted)
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