Will Jack Viney, Toby Greene, Kane Lambert and Adam Treloar be fit for the first week of finals?
Will Jack Viney, Toby Greene, Kane Lambert and Adam Treloar be fit for the first week of finals?

Barometer: finals clubs sweat on stars

ALL eyes will be on Collingwood and GWS this week with a host of stars racing the clock to be fit for the first week of the finals.

The Magpies could have Adam Treloar, Darcy Moore and Jeremy Howe back for the trip to Perth for their qualifying final clash against West Coast.

The Giants have to decide if Brett Deledio, Toby Greene and Ryan Griffen should all come back for their elimination final derby against Sydney while Zac Williams is also pressing his claims after a successful return in the NEAFL.

There's better news at Melbourne with co-captain Jack Viney all but proving his fitness in a rigorous training session on Saturday ahead of an elimination final against Geelong.

Viney has played only seven games this year due to various injuries but his return couldn't be better timed as the Demons prepare for the Cats' powerhouse midfield.

Meanwhile, West Coast is expected to be bolstered by the return of dual Coleman Medallist Josh Kennedy for the Magpies clash at Perth Stadium.

Scroll down to see every finalist's injury list, who is likely to make the cut for the first week of September and who could miss out.

 

 

 

COLLINGWOOD

INJURIES

Adam Treloar (hamstring) test

Will Hoskin-Elliott (knee) test

Jeremy Howe (thigh) test

Chris Mayne (ankle) test

Darcy Moore (hamstring) test

Ben Reid (calf) 1 week

Tim Broomhead (broken leg) season

Lynden Dunn (knee) season

Jamie Elliott (hamstring) season

Kayle Kirby (heart) indefinite

Matt Scharenberg (knee) season

Daniel Wells (foot) season

ON THE BLOCK: Despite solid games in the VFL Jack Madgen and Adam Oxley look the most likely to make way with several first-choice defenders returning for Collingwood. Chris Mayne has been a good contributor this season but an untimely ankle injury could force coach Nathan Buckley's hand with 100 per cent fitness crucial to upsetting West Coast at Perth Stadium. Nathan Murphy was the last man in and most likely the first man out after just nine disposals in Round 23.

ON THE CUSP: The Magpies have several key players pushing for a return, including Adam Treloar, Jeremy Howe and Darcy Moore. Treloar remains a long shot as he continues to recover from a double hamstring injury and a flight to Perth might prove a step too far. In the VFL on Sunday, Tyson Goldsack got through his second game back from a knee reconstruction and could slot in as the Magpies attempt to subdue Eagles twin towers Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling. Goldsack only had two disposals but moved well just 21 weeks after surgery. Callum Brown put forward a convincing case for an AFL recall with 24 disposals, 10 tackles and three goals in the Magpies' elimination final loss.

BEN HIGGINS' FORECAST: Collingwood obviously face the toughest task in Week 1, West Coast at Perth Stadium. Given the Eagles got the better of the Magpies at the MCG earlier this year, it's safe to say they're big favourites on their home deck. However, 2018 has been a season of surprises and few have been bigger than Collingwood's form. Well, except West Coast's so there goes that argument. A MCG semi-final looms against either Sydney or GWS.

 

Injured Collingwood trio (from left) Darcy Moore, Adam Treloar and Jeremy Howe.
Injured Collingwood trio (from left) Darcy Moore, Adam Treloar and Jeremy Howe.

 

GEELONG

INJURIES

Rhys Stanley (calf) 1 week

Aaron Black (knee) season

Wylie Buzza (foot) season

Nakia Cockatoo (knee) season

Cory Gregson (foot) season

ON THE BLOCK: Ryan Abbott seems to have won the ruck battle after Zac Smith and Esava Ratugolea failed to impress in the VFL. Otherwise, there are precious few spots up for grabs ahead of Friday night's elimination final against Melbourne. On the back to consecutive 100-point wins, the Cats would have plenty of confidence. Don't expect too many changes.

ON THE CUSP: The Cats had 17 AFL-listed players in the VFL but suffered a terrible 91-point qualifying final loss to Casey. Lachie Fogarty did his chances of an AFL elimination final berth no harm but the Cats' midfield is hard to crack. Zac Smith failed to impress and while Esava Ratugolea made strides in his second game back from a broken ankle but Cats coach Chris Scott won't risk him against Melbourne man mountain Max Gawn.

BEN HIGGINS' FORECAST: A toss of the coin game. Geelong won both clashes with Melbourne this season but both were decided by kicks either just before the siren or after it. Max Gawn's miss in Round 1 probably still haunts him and Zach Tuohy lived the dream in Round 18. Ladder positions means nothing heading into this game with just four points separating the teams and the Cats' big finish saw them finish with the better percentage by 0.2 per cent. Chris Scott will back his team's finals experience to get the job done.

 

GWS GIANTS

INJURIES

Aidan Corr (groin) test

Matt de Boer (hamstring) test

Brett Deledio (calf) test

Matt Flynn (quad) test

Toby Greene (hamstring) test

Sam Taylor (hamstring) test

Ryan Griffen (hamstring) test

Nick Shipley (ankle) 2 weeks

Dawson Simpson (ankle) 4 weeks

Jon Patton (knee) season

Tom Scully (ankle) season

Will Setterfield (knee) season

Heath Shaw (knee) season

Lachie Tiziani (knee) season

ON THE BLOCK: Jeremy Finlayson and Harry Perryman will both come under pressure from Aidan Corr and Sam Taylor to hold their spot in the Giants backline. Daniel Lloyd and Sam Reid will also feel the heat from the long list of returning stars.

ON THE CUSP: There is a genuine log jam of returning players from injury with Toby Greene, Brett Deledio, Ryan Griffen, Aidan Corr, Matt de Boer and Sam Taylor all looking to prove their fitness for the Sydney derby elimination final on Saturday at the SCG. It is a selection headache for Leon Cameron but one he'd rather have than not after another horror season with injuries.

NEIL CORDY'S FORECAST: Leon Cameron has already said he can't fit all the returning players into the team at once with possibly only two or three inclusions. If that is the case the inclusions in order of importance would be Toby Greene, Aidan Corr, Matt de Boer, Sam Taylor, Brett Deledio and Ryan Griffen.

 

Brett Deledio has a calf injury. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Brett Deledio has a calf injury. Picture: Phil Hillyard

 

HAWTHORN

INJURIES

Grant Birchall (knee) test

James Frawley (back) test

Will Langford (hamstring) test

James Sicily (wrist) test

Kurt Heatherley (hamstring) season

Harry Jones (shoulder) season

 

ON THE BLOCK: Anyone who misses out for the Hawks could be considered stiff, given they go into the finals as the form team with six wins on the bounce. Irishman Conor Nash could be one who makes way for one of the James; Sicily or Frawley. The Hawks tend to win when Teia Miles plays, but he could be the other unlucky omission.

ON THE CUSP: Hawthorn made it through the final round win over Sydney without injury and its list is winding into health. Star defender Sicily is an almost certainty to be picked, as is Frawley, who will have the unenviable job of quelling Jack Riewoldt. Ruckman Jon Ceglar is also a chance to return in a bid to throw a ruck duo at Richmond's one-out big man Toby Nankervis. Taylor Duryea has been overtaken in the senior side, but he was named best on ground in Box Hill's VFL finals win over Port Melbourne on the weekend, a game in which Brendan Whitecross kicked two goals. One from left field - and it'd be a huge surprise - but could four-time premiership defender Grant Birchall make his AFL season debut in the first week of the finals?

MICK RANDALL'S FORECAST: So much for a rebuild. There's no such thing at Hawthorn. Another top-four finish and double chance for Clarko's merry men. It's all about system for the Hawks. They'll go into their Thursday night clash with Richmond as the underdogs and that's just the way they like it. Look out, Tigers.

 

 

MELBOURNE

INJURIES

Jack Viney (toe) test

Dom Tyson (arm) test

Mitch Hannan (knee) test

Jayden Hunt (ankle) test

Joel Smith (collarbone) test

Dean Kent (AC joint) 2 weeks

Oskar Baker (hamstring) 2 weeks

Lochie Filipovic (hand) 3 weeks

Bernie Vince (AC joint) 3 weeks

Jesse Hogan (foot) season

Jake Lever (knee) season

Corey Maynard (hip) season

Billy Stretch (toe) season

ON THE BLOCK: The Demons need to replace forward Dean Kent (shoulder) from their Round 23 side, while Dom Tyson (arm) is still in a race against time after also finishing that game on the bench. A gutsy win over GWS means few unforced changes are expected heading into an elimination final against Geelong.

ON THE CUSP: Co-captain Jack Viney trained strongly again on Saturday and is looking more likely by the day to be recalled having been sidelined since Round 16 with a foot stress injury. Mitch Hannan made an impressive return from a knee injury with 18 disposals and three goals in the VFL at the weekend, making a compelling case for an AFL recall. Tom Bugg also continued a rich vein of form with 24 touches while Jayden Hunt (16 disposals) and Cam Pedersen (25 disposals, four goals) also had impact and put themselves in the mix for AFL call-ups.

CHRIS CAVANAGH'S FORECAST: If Viney can clear the remaining hurdles this week he'll come back into the side while Hannan - who has kicked 19 goals from 12 AFL games this year - looks a likely replacement for Kent. The Demons hit their first finals series since 2006 in good form having scored wins over fellow finalists Greater Western Sydney (45 points) and West Coast (17 points) in the last two rounds of the regular season and shape as a potential surprise packet this September.

 

Jack Viney proves his fitness for Melbourne’s final.
Jack Viney proves his fitness for Melbourne’s final.

 

RICHMOND

INJURIES

Dan Butler (ankle) test

Kane Lambert (ankle) test

Shai Bolton (knee) 1 week

Mabior Chol (foot) 1 week

Nathan Drummond (hamstring) 1 week

Jacob Townsend (broken leg) season

 

ON THE BLOCK: There were no fresh injuries - a familiar phrase this year - from the Tigers' lucky Round 23 win against the Bulldogs. A few players were a fair way off their best but any changes will come down to finding room for potentially two returning premiership players. Reece Conca and Jack Higgins seem the obvious candidates but Brandon Ellis and Kamdyn McIntosh have both been dropped this year. It might come down to Higgins v Ellis.

ON THE CUSP: Those two players mentioned above are of course Kane Lambert and Dan Butler. Both have had minor ankle surgery in recent weeks and have taken different paths back. Lambert hasn't played but the Tigers say he's on track for a date with the Hawks on Thursday night. Butler played a half in the VFL on Saturday night, for just three touches and goal. Is that enough? Sam Lloyd and Ryan Garthwaite sat out of that game and are next in line if a last-minute crisis hits.

AL PATON'S FORECAST: It all comes down to this: can the Tigers switch their finals-level pressure back on this Thursday. It has slipped dramatically in the past month, but the counterpoint is Richmond hasn't really had anything to play for in that time and used the final home-and-away rounds to manage some of its stars (remember Toby Nankervis missing a week with a sore quad?), a luxury no other finals side has enjoyed. But it's been decades since the Tigers were in this position and no one will know for sure how they will respond until Thursday night. In their final five matches last year the Tigers averaged a pressure factor of 198, clearly No.1 in the comp. If they can reproduce that this week, they should be preparing for a home preliminary final.

 

SYDNEY

INJURIES

Lance Franklin (groin) test

Sam Reid (Achilles) test

Harry Marsh (hamstring) test

Lewis Melican (hamstring) 1 week

Jack Maibaum (knee) 1 week

Nick Smith (hamstring) 3 weeks

Alex Johnson (knee) season

Matthew Ling (toe) season

Callum Mills (foot) season

Sam Naismith (knee) season

ON THE BLOCK: Robbie Fox had little impact against Hawthorn two weeks ago and will be the first to make way for Sydney's star pair, Lance Franklin and Luke Parker. Dan Robinson is likely to be unlucky again after he did an excellent job against the Hawks two weeks ago. Heath Grundy could also find himself on the outer if John Longmire is concerned by the pace of the Giants forwards.

ON THE CUSP: Lance Franklin and Luke Parker are obvious automatic inclusions for Saturday. Sam Reid is very close to making his return from an Achilles injury after playing just one game this year. He adds enormous flexibility to Sydney's line up. Colin O'Riordan has also been in very good form in the NEAFL.

NEIL CORDY'S FORECAST: Fox and Robinson will make way for Franklin and Parker while Grundy is likely to make way for O'Riordan or Reid if he is to be the shock inclusion. The match up isn't there for 'Reg' with Dane Rampe to get Jeremy Cameron again and Aliir Aliir likely to go to Harry Himmelberg.

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Josh Kennedy at West Coast training.
Josh Kennedy at West Coast training.

 

WEST COAST

INJURIES

Andrew Gaff (suspension) 5 weeks

Lewis Jetta (calf) test

Josh Kennedy (shin) test

Eric Mackenzie (toe) season

Nic Naitanui (knee) season

 

ON THE BLOCK: Young forward Oscar Allen kicked two goals in East Perth's WAFL elimination final loss to Claremont but will make way if Josh Kennedy is fit and all reports out of the west say he has recovered from the shin issue that has hampered him. Running machine Lewis Jetta trained strongly last week and leaves the Eagles with a selection quandary that could leave much-loved defender Will Schofield on the outer.

ON THE CUSP: West Coast is in the enviable position of being almost certain to welcome back goal machine Kennedy and line-breaker Jetta. It puts them very close to full strength, with only Nic Naitanui and Andrew Gaff missing from their best 22. If the Eagles want more ball-winner ability, youngster Brayden Ainsworth continues to bang the door down with another 25 disposals.

MICK RANDALL'S FORECAST: What to make of the West Coast? Not many had the Eagles finishing in the top two, but they've quietly gone about their business in season 2018 and will be looking to make some serious noise against Collingwood. You'd expect them to do the business in front of a sold out Perth Stadium crowd, but stranger things have happened. If Scott Lycett can at least breakeven with Collingwood gun Brodie Grundy it will go a long way to making it West Coast's day. Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling were dominant in the MCG win over the Magpies earlier this year and loom as the most important players on Saturday night.

 

 

Toby Greene at GWS training.
Toby Greene at GWS training.
Dan Butler in action in the VFL. Picture: Michael Klein
Dan Butler in action in the VFL. Picture: Michael Klein