Hawthorn reacted savagely to its 87-point defeat to Brisbane last week by
axing five players - almost a quarter of the team - for the crunch match against
Richmond at the MCG tomorrow.
The Hawks, reeling after four losses in their past five starts, lost Lance
Picioane to concussion and a badly broken nose, but dropped Bill Nicholls,
Chance Bateman, Brett O'Farrell, Kris Barlow and Tim Clarke for what is shaping
as the match of the round.
In their place, John Barker, Adrian Cox, debutant Tim Hazell, Shaun Rehn,
Brett Johnson and Glen Bowyer get a chance as the Hawks try to halt their slide
and re-establish themselves as a top-four team.
Cox, 21, has not played senior football for two years, since making his
debut, then playing four games in 1999. Hazell, a 20-year-old Tasmanian, will
make his debut in a game in which the Hawks, unbeaten on top of the ladder five
weeks ago, could drop to as low as seventh if they lose.
Richmond , riding high in third place, brought back Nick Daffy and Brendon
Gale from injury, omitting youngsters Mark Coughlan and Andrew Mills.
After several false starts, Irishman Tadgh Kennelly will finally get his
chance to play senior football for Sydney, and emulate the feats of his
fellow-countryman, Brownlow medallist Jim Stynes, when the Swans host Carlton at
the SCG on Sunday.
Kennelly, who turned 20 last Sunday, was drafted by the Swans late in 1999
after proving an outstanding prospect as a Gaelic footballer.
After slowly developing his skills with Port Melbourne in the VFL last year,
Kennelly has repeatedly pushed for senior selection this season and seven times
has been included in the Swans' squad of 25.
Such was his rapid improvement he was elevated to the senior list when Ryan
Fitzgerald sustained a season-ending knee injury.
Essendon, as expected, lost captain James Hird to a groin injury for
tonight's game against the Western Bulldogs at Colonial Stadium.
Rookie ruckman David Hille was dropped, while Judd Lalich and Danny Jacobs
were given another chance to establish themselves in the competition's premier
The Bulldogs also swung the axe after their dismal showing against Carlton
last week by dropping three players, including high-priced Port Adelaide recruit
Nathan Eagleton. Kingsley Hunter and Robert Murphy also felt the selectors'
wrath, while Mitchell Hahn (ankle) could not be considered.
The four players included were key onballer Jose Romero, who returns after a
long layoff with injury, Paul Dooley, Simon Cox and Trent Bartlett.
Eagleton, a stylish left-footer, came to the club at the start of last season
in a three-way trade deal involving Stephen Powell and Brett Montgomery.
Collingwood and Geelong each included key players for their match at Colonial
Stadium on Sunday, the Magpies bringing back centre half-forward Anthony Rocca
after illness, and the Cats their livewire forward Ronnie Burns from suspension.
Melbourne's horror season showed no sign of bottoming out when they lost two
of their best midfielders, Brownlow medallist Shane Woewodin (buttock) and Guy
Rigoni (back), to injury for Sunday's game against the Kangaroos.
The Roos brought back veteran full-back Mick Martyn, among others, after a
two-week hamstring injury. Glenn Archer (shoulder) could not be considered.
St Kilda gave a debut to former Bulldogs' reserves player Daniel Wulf for its
trip to Brisbane, with the Lions calling up Ben Robbins to replace the
suspended Chris Scott.