Griffin eases Sandi blow
Fremantle coach Mark Harvey is confident that ruckman Jon Griffin will be available to take on Hawthorn this Saturday night, softening the continued absence of star big man Aaron Sandilands.
Sandilands and key clearance player David Mundy have been ruled out of the finals-shaping clash at Patersons Stadium, with defender Luke McPharlin also missing through suspension.
Griffin, however, has been cleared of serious damage after being subbed out of last Sunday’s classic Western Derby with a left hip complaint.
After losing to West Coast by one point, Harvey said Fremantle’s season would be on the line every week, but the club could still not afford to rush its two most recent club champions back on Saturday night.
“I’d like to think it’s the week after but it might be the week after that,” Harvey said from Fremantle Oval on Wednesday.
“They might come back together, it looks more like that, so that becomes an issue for us in itself.
“Everything is at stake on a weekly basis and that’s the difficult part about having players injured for long periods of time and then all of a sudden somewhere near the business end of the season, they’re back.
“If we pick them they’re going to have to be there for the duration of the game and we expect them to play as good as they would if they were playing on a weekly basis. Otherwise they have to come back through the WAFL.”
With McPharlin suspended, Fremantle will have to find a new match-up for Hawthorn star Lance Franklin, who leads the Coleman Medal race after booting five goals against Melbourne last Sunday.
“We’re going through that at match committee now,” Harvey said, with Alex Silvagni and Peter Faulks, who would make his Fremantle debut, two options for the coach.
“He (Faulks) is playing really well at Peel at the moment and defending and getting the No.1 forward from the opposition.
“He’s had an interrupted year through some soft tissue [injuries] but now he’s played five or six games, so he’ll be fit and ready to go when we need to call upon him.
“The other guy as dangerous up there at the moment is [Cyril] Rioli.”
As well as searching for the right match-up for Franklin, Harvey will be keeping an eye on the star Hawk’s set shot routine this week.
The natural arc of a player’s set shot run-up became an issue on Tuesday after AFL umpires manager Jeff Gieschen said Hayden Ballantyne’s after-the-siren shot on goal in Sunday’s Derby should have been called play on.
Harvey said he was surprised by Gieschen’s admission.
“It’s going to be interesting when [Buddy] shoots for goal,” Harvey said. “If they determine that Ballantyne was running off on an angle or taking one or two steps, then these guys and [Josh] Kennedy from West Coast are in the same boat.
“When they take a step or two sidewards in their run-up, is it going to be called play on?
“The other interesting aspect is guys like Steve Johnson, who will have a set shot and turn side on and the minute they take a step when they’re kicking around the corner, that’s play on too.
“The umpires are going to have to govern this quite stringently.”