Keep an eye on Sutton and Lyon

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South Sydney are on a roll, and their five-eighth, John Sutton, is playing the best football of his career. Sutton is as talented as any player in the NRL. He is big, strong and extremely skilful. His greatest asset, however, is his ability to read the game. I have coached Sutton and, believe me, he knows the game of rugby league inside-out. He was born to play.

Manly, meanwhile, have surged back into form and premiership contention in recent weeks. The Sea Eagles have had a disrupted season due to injury with some of their best players sitting on the sidelines for extended periods. In these times, all clubs need strong leadership to get them through. Their skipper, Jamie Lyon, has been inspirational. Lyon is an unassuming captain who leads by example on the field. He is fast, agile and extremely skilful. Like Sutton, his greatest asset is his ability to read the game. I have played with Jamie Lyon and, like Sutton, he knows the game of rugby league inside-out. He, too, was born to play.

Sutton plays on Souths’ left side of the field, and Lyon on Manly’s right. Both teams have star players in numerous positions but the outcome of this left-edge versus right-edge battle will go a long way to determining the winner tonight in Gosford.

Stopping Sutton and his runners tonight will be a particularly difficult job for Lyon’s inside men, Daly Cherry-Evans and Glenn Stewart. When Sutton runs to the defensive line, he does so in a manner that puts the defenders under immediate pressure. Sutton knows exactly where to run.

Picture one is an example of a typical Sutton play. Sutton is running hard at the hole between defenders four and five, and has organised his support runner, Dave Taylor, to run at the hole between defenders three and four. In this situation, defender four, which is where Stewart will be defending tonight, has a tough decision to make. Because Sutton is such a big man, the logical thing for defender four to do is to hold his ground and tackle the five-eighth. However, defender four is aware that defender three will require help tackling the massive Taylor should Sutton pass the ball. The upshot here was that defender four drifted off Sutton to help defender three. Sutton reacted to this decision by holding the ball, and after palming off defender five, he scored a try himself. Manly halfback Cherry-Evans, will be in position three tonight and he’ll have plenty to worry about. One positive for Cherry-Evans, though, is that Taylor rarely runs off Sutton on Souths’ left edge. This role is predominantly filled by Rabbitohs back-rower Chris McQueen. McQueen doesn’t quite match Taylor’s physique but he is still big, strong and fast. For Manly to get this right, defender four, Glenn Stewart, must mark Sutton from the beginning of each play while defender three, Cherry-Evans, has to muscle-up on McQueen. It doesn’t end there for the Sea Eagles because once Sutton reads that he and McQueen are covered, he will pass the ball to his fullback, Nathan Merritt, sweeping around behind McQueen. This will create a whole new set of problems for defender two, Jamie Lyon, and his winger David Williams to handle. Good luck gents.

For the Sea Eagles, Lyon and Stewart have developed a great attacking combination. However, with Glenn Stewart out injured for much of this year, Lyon has often had to do it on his own. He has a great ability to find a way to score. It’s like a sixth sense. He knows when his team needs a try, and he leads from the front to make it happen.

When Manly played Newcastle four weeks ago, Lyon’s ability in this regard was never more evident. There was less than 20 minutes to go in the game, and Manly were down 22-0 as they received a drop-out from the Knights. To salvage an unlikely win Manly needed to score four tries in the remaining time. With this in mind, Lyon knew they had to score a try in the ensuing set, and he took it upon himself to ensure that happened.

Picture two is the lead-up to the try scored by Brent Kite that Lyon created. Manly fullback George Taufua carried the ball from the middle of the field across to the right side. Taufua then passed to Lyon, who headed back in-field along the line of the arrow. As Lyon got the ball he surveyed the Knights’ defensive line, and saw an opportunity near the goal posts. One of the Knights’ defenders had failed to move up with his teammates. Lyon accelerated back towards his own try line and across field about 20 metres to stay clear of the immediate defenders. He then straightened and powered through the hole on the inside of the lazy defender before flick-passing the ball to Kite, who scored.

Manly didn’t take Lyon’s lead in that game, and they went on to lose. But they sure have taken it since. Manly will go to Lyon when the pressure is on, and Souths will go to Sutton. There might not be much grass left on that side of the field come full-time.

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Reynolds ready for game of two halfbacks

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 01: Greg Inglis and Adam Reynolds of the Rabbitohs celebrate golden point victory after Greg Inglis kicked a field goal during the round five NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Allianz Stadium on April 1, 2012 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)HAVEN’T we seen this before?
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A halfback, unknown to most six months ago, playing like a seasoned veteran on his way to rookie of the year and premiership honours?

South Sydney mini-maestro Adam Reynolds is creating the same headlines as the man he’ll go up against tonight, baby-faced Manly pivot Daly Cherry-Evans, did a year ago.

Off the field, the heavily tattooed father of two couldn’t be more different from his blond-haired rival from the Queensland beaches, but on it he is riding the same wave to glory.

Just as Cherry-Evans did last year, Reynolds is playing with the similar composure and class that belies his 20 NRL games experience.

Unlike his predecessor, Chris Sandow, Reynolds doesn’t have the flamboyance that made Sandow so popular with the Rabbitohs faithful.

What Reynolds lacks in style and charisma, he more than compensates in grit and class.

Not only does he possess an accurate kicking game, but his vision and awareness make his boot one of the most revered in the game. It wasn’t that long ago we were complaining about the lack of quality halves coming through the ranks, but the NRL has unearthed some exceptional talent over the past two years, which has eradicated the concern.

It was Cherry-Evans and Warriors whiz-kid Shaun Johnson, both in their first seasons in the NRL, who captured the imaginations of the rugby league world by guiding their teams to the grand final last year. Now Adam Reynolds and Josh Reynolds – no relation – are on the road to doing the same for their respective clubs, competition leaders South Sydney and Canterbury.

Souths coach Michael Maguire wouldn’t be drawn into comparing Reynolds with Cherry-Evans, but praised the NRL’s leading goal-kicker for his ability to overcome a serious knee injury that had him sidelined for all of last year. ”He had a real tough ride last year, having to sit out for a whole season,” Maguire said. ”That was very disappointing for him. To see him come back and do what he’s doing now – I keep talking about the fact that there’s a lot of upside in Adam’s game. He’s continually learning each day.”

Cherry-Evans earned a spot on the Kangaroos Tour last year and was 18th man for the Maroons in game one of this year’s Origin series.

Reynolds hasn’t played in any representative games, but there are already calls for the 22-year-old to replace Mitchell Pearce as the NSW halfback.

A premiership would help his cause, but he and halves partner John Sutton will have to overcome a 34-year hoodoo to lead the Bunnies to their first title since 1971. Not since Manly’s Steve Martin and Alan Thompson in 1978 has a pair of halves with no previous representative experience guided a team to premiership success.

South Sydney and the Bulldogs are the only teams in the top eight without a representative play-making duo, but they are firming as grand final opponents.

While Maguire heaped credit on Reynolds, he highlighted the combination with five-eighth John Sutton as one of the reasons behind his halfback’s meteoric rise, as well as Reynolds’s study of his rival No.7s.

”He looks at everyone in the game,” Maguire said. ”He had a bit of time last year to sit back and study the [Johnathan] Thurstons and the [Cooper] Cronks, and all the other players in the game, but he’s building his own name now. He’s just a really mature kid. He pushes the team around with ‘Sutto’ – he and Sutto have got a great combination together.”

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NSW chief rings the changes on Blues

“I fully respect that the NSW Rugby League wants to make a decision and get on with this. So what I’m saying is, the answer’s no” … Phil Gould.NSW Rugby League boss Geoff Carr will personally phone every coach who has been linked with the vacant Blues position to gauge their interest in the job – including those contracted to NRL clubs.
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It is the clearest indication yet that officials are prepared to consider offering the job to a club coach and, for the first time, officially puts the Bulldogs’ Des Hasler in the frame.

It also came as the most successful NSW coach, Phil Gould, questioned the model which prevents NRL coaches from being put forward as candidates.

Gould said he held discussions yesterday with NSW board members David Trodden and Ray Dib, indicating he could not take the job. However, he has still left the door ajar, telling the Herald last night: ”If you want a decision today, the decision is no; I just haven’t got the time. But I don’t know what my life’s going to look like in 12 months time, around job opportunities and work in the media or at the Panthers or wherever.

”If you were to come back at Christmas time, my life might look very different. But I can’t make a commitment today, and I fully respect that the NSW Rugby League wants to make a decision and get on with this. So what I’m saying is, the answer’s no.”

Gould echoed those sentiments during talks with Trodden and Dib, which coincided with the ARL Commission’s meeting with officials from the four western Sydney clubs. Trodden and Dib are chairmen of Wests Tigers and the

Bulldogs respectively. ”I spoke to them [yesterday] about Origin,” Gould said. ”[Chairman] John Chalk had rung me on Monday, and he seemed to think they weren’t in any great hurry, but I think at the board meeting on Tuesday, it was suggested someone approach me.

”I let them know where it stood. They took it all on board. At the end of the day, they’ve got to get on with it and find a coach.”

Carr is leading that search. He said last night he would phone all the candidates whose names had been linked to the position, and create a shortlist based on who expressed an interest in the role – vacated by the new Parramatta coach Ricky Stuart. ”I’ll be ringing them all personally and reporting back to the board,” Carr said.

Asked if that included NRL coaches, he said: ”It includes everybody. Ricky would have been an NRL coach [and the NSW coach], and he had the job. I just want to win it. But that’s not to say that the board will decide to change the policy.”

A report commissioned by the NSWRL and compiled by former Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan had recommended the Blues employ a full-time coach in an attempt to halt Queensland’s dominance. On the back of that report, Stuart was hired, but now he has signed with Parramatta, and withdrawn from the NSW position, Blues officials are in a bind. Do they continue their stance and hire a relatively inexperienced coach, or do they perform something of a backflip – but one which might snare them a premiership winner?

Gould, who said he had found coaching the Blues easier while in charge of a club, believed the net needed to be cast over the best coaches, not just those with no club links. ”I’m not telling the NSW Rugby League who to pick, I’m just saying if the current model excludes coaches like Ricky Stuart, Des Hasler and John Cartwright, then I suggest the model needs to be looked at,” Gould said. ”The model was created to get Ricky into the job … they did a study and decided it had to be a non-club coach. [But] I don’t know if the model is right if those blokes can’t be considered.

”The other three or four candidates they’ve got – Laurie Daley, Brad Fittler, Trent Barrett, Jim Dymock – these are all non-NRL coaches. I’m just saying it’s a huge ask on those boys, to be thrown into that sort of arena. It’s a pretty daunting exercise.”

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Hasler gets his man – ref gig goes to Archer

The CD is out soon … Manly’s Joe Galuvao, right, will put his musical side on show when a song he has written is performed at this year’s NRL grand final. It is all part of a project involving young artists from south-west Sydney, the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and other NRL players. Here Galuvao is with Minto hiphopper Ivan Zainey.Tony Archer has been appointed to control a Canterbury match for the first time in more than two years on Sunday after Bulldogs coach Des Hasler alerted referees bosses Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper to the anomaly. Canterbury supporters, who have so far raised $6500 towards the $10,000 fine imposed on Hasler for his criticism of referees last week, advised Sin Bin of the statistic and suggested the rant might have had the desired effect. But Harrigan said it had been decided to appoint Archer to Sunday’s game after Hasler contacted him three weeks ago to point out that one of the game’s top whistleblowers had not controlled a Bulldogs match since round 20, 2010. ”I was very surprised and when I told Tony Archer he was as surprised as I was,” Harrigan said. ”We have spreadsheets so that we make sure every referee goes to Townsville, every referee goes to Auckland and they usually to Skilled Stadium and all those places, but we missed that. After hearing that, he had to go and do a Bulldogs game because he could be refereeing the Bulldogs in the finals but he still had to go and referee a game in Auckland like all the other referees do, and then my plan was for him to do this game.”
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Dogs’ poor omens

Regardless of who referees Canterbury’s remaining four regular season games, Hasler’s men will have to defy history to win the premiership after finishing on the right side of the penalty count in just three matches this season. According to statistics unearthed by long-time Canterbury supporter and season ticket holder Ian Camlett, who began the campaign for fans to pledge $100 each towards Hasler’s fine, no team that has won fewer than eight penalty counts in a season has triumphed on grand final day since 1980. ”The more I look at these statistics the more I can see why Hasler is alarmed,” Camlett told Sin Bin.

Gal the choir boy

Cronulla captain Paul Gallen’s reputation as one of the most penalised NRL players is no longer warranted, with the NSW and Australian star earning the wrath of referees just twice this season. The Sharks are statistically the most disciplined team in the NRL after conceding the least penalties (88) and losing just two penalty counts all season.

Stuart’s tough spot

Ricky Stuart has been placed in an awkward position after standing down as Blues coach, with NSWRL officials seeking his opinion to help decide who should replace him next season. Stuart has a good relationship with all of the main contenders – Trent Barrett, Laurie Daley, Brad Fittler and Jim Dymock – and has worked closely with each of them during the past two Origin campaigns so he would be reluctant to choose. Another candidate, Steve Folkes, who applied this week, shares the same manager as Stuart, John Fordham. It is no suprise, therefore, that he suggested Phil Gould, but the Panthers supremo doesn’t have the time to be a full-time NSW coach. With two of next season’s three matches to be played at Suncorp Stadium, whoever is given the task of stopping Queensland from winning an eighth consecutive series faces a baptism of fire.

England calling

Penrith prop Mitch Achurch has his sights set on playing for England in next year’s World Cup after signing a four-year deal with Leeds Rhinos. Achurch, who turned down offers from the Panthers and Manly, qualifies to play for England through his London-born mother. ”It was obviously a big decision for me but my mum still has a lot of family in England and this feels like the right decision for me,” the 24-year-old said. “My first focus is … doing my best for Leeds Rhinos but obviously with my heritage that would make me available for England and the World Cup next year.”

Regular service

Channel Nine’s decision to move last Friday night’s Roosters-Dragons clash to its digital channel Gem due to the Olympics had a significant impact on ratings for the NRL, with the match watched by just 291,000 viewers, 177,000 of them in Sydney. Tonight’s Souths-Manly game will be back on the main channel.

Magpies’ big night

Wests Magpies will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the club’s move to Campbelltown by naming a best team of the era at their annual Hall of Fame dinner on August 25. Besides inducting three new players into the hall, the evening will also be a tribute to the late Keith Holman. Tickets are $95 or $900 for a table of 10 and can be bought at Wests Leagues Club Campbelltown, online at www.proticket南京夜网.au or by phoning 1300 12 10 12.

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Broadcast rights might not be sealed before old deal runs dry

NOW the ARL Commission is approaching what is being termed the ”struggle” stage of the broadcast rights negotiations, chairman John Grant has raised the prospect of no new deal being signed by the time money from this contract dries up.
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In the pursuit of the ”right outcome”, Grant said all possibilities had been explored. And while it is expected the administration will have a new deal by November 1, he said the game was sustainable even if the windfall from the new deal were delayed.

”It’s something that we’re not going to drive any faster than we need to to get the right outcome,” Grant said yesterday. ”We’re pursuing it as quickly as we can. It would be nice to have all i’s dotted, all t’s crossed and money flying by the first of November, which is the end of the current broadcast rights, but if that doesn’t happen, we can sustain ourselves for some considerable time after that. We’ve got to get the right outcome.”

If there are delays, there are implications for the clubs. They have been told to expect a salary cap of $5 million next season, but there is still uncertainty about the level of the player payment ceiling beyond that. Some players might hold off signing long-term with their clubs, as they wait for a concrete idea of the money on offer. Grant, though, stressed that, ”We’ve given the clubs pretty clear guidelines on what we believe they should be basing their planning around, and we’re all moving from the same process.”

He is also prepared to be patient about the search for a new chief executive, despite the public thirst for a quick appointment. He also raised the prospect of a short-term boss – although he did not clarify what sort of timeframe he meant. ”We’ve gone to the second stage of that process, which is identifying a shortlist of candidates. We’re in the process of interviewing that shortlist,” Grant said. ”We’re not under pressure to make a hasty decision.”

The commission met officials from the four western Sydney clubs in Parramatta yesterday, with Grant saying the administration was intent on a less ”fragmented” approach in the region. ”The economy of western Sydney is growing at an amazing rate, and rugby league needs to be a part of that growth,” Grant said.

The commission decided next year’s City-Country match would be played at Coffs Harbour, while plans for a Nines tournament in New Zealand in 2014 would continue to be reviewed. The commissioners have also ended any prospect of North Queensland halfback Robert Lui playing again this season, prompting an angry response from the Cowboys.

Lui had been banned from playing in April after pleading guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm to his partner Taleah Backo. The Cowboys had attempted to convince the ARLC he should be able to play again this year, due to favourable reports from a psychologist, but that plea was rejected. ”We are very disappointed with the decision,” Cowboys chief executive Peter Jourdain said in a statement. ”The psychologist who has been working with Robert for many months is of the very firm view that Robert is now at the point where playing football is a very important part of his rehabilitation.”

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Bird in the hand: Titans welcome lock back for Storm clash

TITANS lock Greg Bird completed his side’s final session yesterday and will take his place in the team for tonight’s clash with Melbourne at AAMI Park. Bird, who missed last week’s loss to South Sydney with a hamstring strain, was given the all clear to return after training in Melbourne yesterday, but it is unknown whether he’ll start from the bench.
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He could slot into the starting line-up when coach John Cartwright finalises his team today. Storm centre Justin O’Neill, who left the field in the second half of last week’s victory over the Panthers, is in doubt with a groin injury. He missed the previous two games with the same injury but may be forced to push through the pain barrier for the rest of the year.

South Sydney will tonight welcome back Issac Luke from a three-game suspension against Manly in Gosford, but he’s likely to start off the bench with Nathan Peats to remain in the run-on side. Coach Michael Maguire hasn’t decided on his bench – he is yet to omit two players – but Roy Asotasi is expected to play his first game in three months after returning from a pectoral injury via the NSW Cup. Manly are hopeful prop Jason King will play despite a bruised chest, but Steve Matai is in some doubt after picking up an ankle injury in the win against the Cowboys.

Parramatta and the Roosters have no injury concerns and are likely to use the same 17 players they both named earlier in the week.

Dragons forward Josh Miller still has to pass a cognitive test to take on the Tigers, who are expecting Beau Ryan (nose) and Gareth Ellis (ankle) to take the field tomorrow night. A decision on benched five-eighth Jamie Soward is yet to be made, but he won’t be sent back to the NSW Cup.

The Cowboys are in a similar boat with little to worry about against their clash with the Warriors. Brian McClennan’s men flew to Townsville yesterday with Simon Mannering, James Maloney, Jerome Ropati and Sam Rapira all on board, despite being injured. They aren’t tipped to play, but have been brought along for their influence on the younger players.

The Panthers will again be without lock Luke Lewis, who hasn’t trained since surgery on his neck to remove a lump. The Raiders have some uncertainty around their side, with Joe Picker still battling concussion. Bronson Harrison and Jarrad Kennedy will travel with the team on standby. Dane Tilse could be a late scratching, expected to miss the game if his wife Katie goes into labour.

Canterbury are hopeful Englishman James Graham will be fit to take on the Broncos on Sunday. Graham suffered a knee injury against the Knights and left the field for treatment, before returning late in the match. He’s been on restricted duties this week but is likely to play, as is halfback Kris Keating, who hasn’t taken the field since injuring his hamstring against Manly three weeks ago. The Broncos have dropped fullback Josh Hoffman for being late to training, with Corey Norman to move to fullback in his absence, and Luke Capewell added to the bench.

The Sharks are likely to be without Wade Graham and Bryce Gibbs for Monday night’s clash with the Knights.

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Milne fined for crude call

STEPHEN Milne was last night fined $3000 by St Kilda after an AFL investigation concluded he had made homophobic comments on-field for the second time in his career.
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Milne, who apologised for his comments to Collingwood defender Harry O’Brien via a club statement, must also undergo an AFL education program ”to address the inappropriate nature of his comments” after the incident in last Saturday night’s match at the MCG.

AFL integrity officer Brett Clothier, who was called in after umpire Dean Margetts overheard Milne calling O’Brien a ”f—— homo c—” during the third quarter, found the St Kilda forward had breached the players’ code of conduct and the AFL’s discrimination and vilification policy.

Milne and O’Brien clashed verbally after Milne was penalised for sliding feet first into Collingwood ruckman Darren Jolly. The umpire then paid a 50-metre penalty against him for abusive language.

In a post-match interview, O’Brien declined to reveal what Milne had said to him.

Clothier’s investigation stemmed from Margetts’ report of the incident rather than a complaint from the Collingwood player. O’Brien said in the interview with Triple M: ”What happens on the field will stay on the field. I’m just glad we won.”

Margetts was picked up by television microphones saying: ”That language is unacceptable” after he paid the 50-metre penalty, with O’Brien, who had moved in to take the kick of the winded Jolly, continuing to remonstrate with Milne as they moved upfield.

In 2010, Milne was fined $3000 by the AFL for directing a homophobic comment towards Collingwood assistant coach Paul Licuria during a quarter-time clash in which Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse was also fined $7500 for calling Milne a rapist.

The AFL’s operations manager, Adrian Anderson, noting Milne’s repeat offence, said the league considered the verbal altercation serious. ”It is simply not acceptable – even in the heat of battle – for AFL players to use homophobic insults on the football field,” he said.

”The AFL investigated Milne’s comments last weekend and found that they breached the players’ code of conduct and also the AFL’s policy on vilification. The St Kilda Football Club is to be commended for taking this action and sending a strong message that homophobic comments are unacceptable.”

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One star stays out, another’s star rises

Chance: Lin Jong could win his first taste of AFL.DETERMINED not to make the same mistake twice, Hawthorn will hold back superstar Lance Franklin for another week to ensure he does not suffer another relapse with his hamstring injury before the finals.
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While the Hawks will keep Franklin on ice for Sunday’s game against Port Adelaide, the Western Bulldogs could give Lin Jong, their exciting rookie with Taiwanese and East Timorese heritage, his first taste of the big time.

On a night of big selection news, Collingwood recalled Alan Didak and Chris Tarrant for tomorrow night’s top four match against Sydney, while Adelaide selected Kurt Tippett, who has missed two games with the after-effects from multiple concussions, for its crucial showdown against Fremantle at AAMI Stadium.

Jong, born to Taiwanese and East Timorese parents but raised in Australia, was elevated to the club’s primary list yesterday and is in line to make his senior debut, as is young forward Fletcher Roberts. The pair loom as replacements for Tom Liberatore (club suspension), Jason Tutt (hamstring) and Christian Howard (adductor) for Sunday’s game against Richmond at the MCG.

The 19-year-old Jong was one of the big stories of the last rookie draft, given he only took up the sport four years ago and might not have even played TAC Cup football last year had the Oakleigh Chargers had the same list limitations that restrict some of their rivals.

Before then, basketball had been Jong’s preferred sport.

”If we only had 40 kids on our list, we probably wouldn’t have listed him,” Oakleigh Chargers under-18 coach Greg Doyle told The Age the day after Jong was added to the Dogs’ rookie list in December.

The athletic midfielder started the season in Williamstown’s reserves but is developing quickly, featuring regularly in the Seagulls’ best players in the VFL since then, fast-tracking his potential debut.

That the Dogs have also been hit hard by injuries late in the season and are out of contention for the finals might also prompt them to roll the dice with the raw, broad-shouldered teenager, who plays with the kind of hard-at-it style coach Brendan McCartney likes.

”Lin is a great competitor and a terrific young person who works extremely hard at his craft,” Williamstown coach Peter German said on the club’s website.

”He can play in a variety of positions and has been a consistent performer in the VFL this season.”

Franklin missing his fifth game in a row – avoiding a trip to Tasmania – means his hamstring will be at full strength upon his return, but sitting out another game will hurt his chances of winning the Coleman Medal.

The 25-year-old, who has already won the league goal-kicking twice, is third, four goals behind Fremantle’s Matthew Pavlich, in the race for this year’s Coleman and could drop further off the pace if the Dockers spearhead and North Melbourne star Drew Petrie, currently second, continue in their current form.

Hawthorn football manager Mark Evans said Franklin was certain to return for next week’s game against Gold Coast at the MCG.

”He trained quite well at the start of the week, but we just didn’t feel he was quite there,” he said last night.

”There hasn’t been any setback. We were positive about him early in the week, but in the end we decided to play the cautious game with him.”

With Franklin out, the Hawks will trial playing ruckman Max Bailey alongside David Hale and Jarryd Roughead against the Power, which will have its first hitout under new caretaker coach Garry Hocking.

The Crows might not make a decision until today on whether to play Tippett, with the key forward attempting to come back after suffering concussion three times in five weeks, the last time in round 17.

Didak (back for his first match since round 11) and Tarrant (late withdrawal last week) will both make just their sixth appearances for the Pies this season, and Collingwood also gave Irishman Marty Clarke another chance to make an impression before finals, as Dane Swan sits out the his two-week club suspension, joining Tyson Goldsack (ankle) and Tom Young (omitted).

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Injuries ravage Cats for clash with Eagles

GEELONG has been ravaged by injury for tonight’s clash with West Coast, losing three players, including midfield star James Kelly, and naming Paul Chapman despite speculation he, too, had not made the trip to Perth.
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The Cats ruled out Kelly with a groin injury but did not return calls last night after it was reported that Chapman, the tough forward and midfielder, had damaged his hamstring at training.

Kelly has been one of the Cats’ most consistent ball-winners this season and he and Chapman are both in the club’s top four for contested possessions.

Chapman was instrumental with three goals in the Cats’ first-quarter blitz against Hawthorn last Friday night, and the 30-year-old has said he believes his body is capable of fulfilling more than the one-year contract extension offered by the club.

The Cats are already missing Joel Corey, who has not recovered from a hamstring strain, from their deep on-ball division and will miss the injured midfielders on the wide expanses of Patersons Stadium.

Rugged defender Josh Hunt, who was subbed out of the classic win over the Hawks with a quadriceps injury, was also left out of the team last night, along with the exciting Billie Smedts (calf).

Veteran David Wojcinski was named as an emergency after returning to VFL action last weekend, his first match since straining a hamstring five weeks ago.

Geelong picked elevated rookie Jonathan Simpkin along with Cameron Guthrie and Jordan Murdoch.

Fifth-placed West Coast has lost three of its past four games but still sits just above Geelong on the ladder, on percentage. Andrew Embley will make his long-awaited return from a serious shoulder injury for the Eagles, while captain Darren Glass is back from suspension to help contain the Cats’ man of the moment, Tom Hawkins. Eagle Mitch Brown was the selection table victim, dropped after patchy recent form.

Geelong’s ruck department is also depleted for the contest with the dominant duo of Nic Naitanui and Dean Cox.

”It’s probably the hardest road trip going around,” coach Chris Scott said of the West Coast assignment this week. ”We’ve known our draw is tough towards the end of the season since the fixture came out, so, fortunately, we think we’re playing pretty good footy and we’re going to need to be at our best to compete with a really good team that will be smarting coming off what they consider to be a pretty poor performance [against Fremantle].”

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Green light: Giants flag interest in Demon

Smart and courageous: Brad Green.RETIRED Demon Brad Green looms as a potential ”top-up” target for Greater Western Sydney if the expansion club is unable to meet its needs through trades or uncontracted players.
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Should GWS choose to pursue Green, list manager Stephen Silvagni believes the Giants could face competition from rival clubs who think the 31-year-old still has something to offer.

The Giants recruited veterans such as James McDonald and Luke Power from Melbourne and Brisbane Lions, respectively, to shepherd their young players through their first season.

They are keen to provide these young bodies with another year of protection, having witnessed how Gold Coast suffered from losing seasoned players such as Nathan Bock, Gary Ablett and Michael Rischitelli for large chunks of the Suns’ second season.

”Certainly there is a chance [of recruiting Green],” Silvagni told The Age yesterday.

”We probably need to do a bit more homework on it all but his form has been pretty good the last half of the year and there might even be another club out there that thinks he might have another season in him if he still wants to play.

”We’ve had no discussions with him and I don’t know if he wants to keep going, but that’s where we sit. If we decided to go down that track again, which we may have to depending on trades and uncontracted [players], if they don’t fall our way, we may need to top up with some older players.

”But a lot is going to depend on our list size and what we might get through uncontracteds and through the trade period.”

Green, the former Melbourne captain, announced his retirement this week but will play out the season with the Demons and, at his press conference on Wednesday, did not dismiss the possibility of continuing his career at another club.

”I haven’t given it one ounce of thought yet. You never say never, but I’m retiring here today,” he said.

A fortnight ago, he told The Age of his burning ambition to play in finals six years after Melbourne’s most recent foray into September, and that is a dream unlikely to materialise for GWS within Green’s AFL lifespan.

But he has expressed an interest in coaching, an avenue that opened up for McDonald, Power and former Port ruckman Dean Brogan when they extended their careers at GWS.

On the field, the smart and courageous Green could provide valuable support for developing forwards Jeremy Cameron and Jonathon Patton, especially if the Giants are unashamed in their efforts to entice power forward Travis Cloke from Collingwood.

Green has kicked 13 goals for Melbourne in the past month in the absence of injured forwards Mitch Clark and Liam Jurrah.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.