Harvey to Ratten: bring it on
Fremantle coach Mark Harvey says the Blues underestimated his side last time they met, and they risk doing the same in Friday night’s finals-shaping clash at Subiaco Oval.
Carlton coach Brett Ratten has questioned the wisdom of Fremantle resting seven key players last week, and he suggested Harvey’s men may not be able to “flick the switch” on their form this Friday.
Harvey defended the club’s tactic, which has split opinion across the footy world, and said Fremantle’s nine-point win over the Blues in round 13 was evidence Carlton had underestimated his side in the past.
“Perhaps he (Ratten) should pick our side?” Harvey said on Wednesday. “They underestimated us last time we played them and it looks like they’re doing that again.
“We beat them on the road at their stadium.
“If he wants to inflame the game, that’s what I say, bring it on.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position where we can control our destiny; a lot of clubs can’t do that.”
Harvey said the seven players rested with ‘soreness’ last week – including captain Matthew Pavlich, David Mundy and Stephen Hill – would return for Friday night’s match, which is expected to sell out.
Ruckman Aaron Sandilands is also certain to return after missing three matches with a foot injury, with decisions to be made on Paul Hasleby (knee), Hayden Ballantyne (foot), Alex Silvagni (groin) and Ryan Crowley (knee) at Wednesday’s main training session.
Chris Mayne and Des Headland both played in the WAFL at the weekend and will also be considered at selection, Harvey said.
The coach was not concerned about making up to 11 changes to the side that lost to Hawthorn by 116 points, saying the players that missed last week could play better than they did before their break.
“The guys know how we play and that’s the number one thing,” he said. “Whether guys have missed a week or three weeks, it shouldn’t matter.
“The guys that didn’t play last week, they could actually play better. You don’t play every game of your career. You miss games through injury every now and then … but you find your touch pretty much straight away.
“I just saw Luke Hodge get up and speak on Monday night, it was a really good comment, he said, ‘They (Hawthorn) rested me in round 21 before the 2008 finals series and it was the best thing they could have done’.”
Harvey labelled Friday night’s clash a “final before the finals”, with Fremantle guaranteed a home elimination final in week one of September if it wins, and Carlton playing for the same prize, while relying on Collingwood to beat Hawthorn.
The coach said Pavlich, who has been managed through an ankle injury in recent weeks, would be as fit as he’s been for six weeks and the big game was reward for senior players like the skipper.
“I think it’s fantastic for our younger players, and particularly for the older guys, who have probably been starved of these types of games,” he said.
“It’ll be a fantastic game [and] it’ll have it all.”