Sandilands cleared to tackle Cats
Fremantle breathed a huge sigh of relief on Sunday after scans cleared ruckman Aaron Sandilands of any serious damage to his knee, freeing him for Friday night’s AFL semi-final against Geelong.
Sandilands was clearly hampered in Saturday’s 30-point elimination final win over Hawthorn, playing most of the match as a key forward after coming off second best in a heavy first-quarter clash of legs with Hawks big man Wayde Skipper.
Dockers officials are hopeful Sandilands will be able to fulfil his ruck duties against the Cats after scans showed no structural damage to his left knee.
The 27-year-old is a certainty to collect his third straight All-Australian guernsey this season and must fire on all cylinders if Fremantle are to defeat Geelong and their star-studded midfield.
In Fremantle’s seven-point victory over Geelong in round three, Sandilands tallied 16 possessions and 37 hit-outs opposed to Mark Blake (13 hit-outs) and Dawson Simpson (five hit-outs).
But Sandilands will face a sterner test this time around with Geelong now boasting a fit Brad Ottens to complement Blake.
The MCG will be foreign territory for the Dockers, who haven’t played there since a 63-point loss to Melbourne in round 20 last year.
Of the 22 Fremantle players who featured against the Hawks on Saturday, six are yet to play an AFL fixture at the venue.
The Dockers are planning to fly to Melbourne either on Wednesday or Thursday and have asked the AFL for permission to train at the MCG upon their arrival.
“We’d like to be able to train there for a start, just to make sure we can have a look at the ground,” Fremantle coach Mark Harvey said.
“We will literally have players that haven’t played there before.”
Star Fremantle midfielder David Mundy said the team would adopt a no fear attitude towards the Cats.
“Geelong will obviously want to bounce back after (Friday) night and it’s going to be a massive game,” Mundy said.
“(We’ll have) no fear.
“It’s going to be a tough one but I’m glad it’s on the MCG – it’ll be good to get on there this year.
“We understand how we play football and how we want the game to be played, and we understand our strengths.”
Mundy, best afield against the Hawks, admitted even he had been taken aback by Fremantle’s rapid rise this season.
“If you had told me at the start of the year that we’d have a final at home and win it, I would have laughed at you, along with a lot of people,” Mundy told the AFL website.
“We’ve really battled since ’06 and hopefully we can get some sustained success now.
“The young guys coming on have been terrific and we have 10 or 11 of them in our side each week.
“It’s taken a lot of pressure off the older players like Spider (Aaron Sandilands), Pav and Luke McPharlin down back.”