Injury woes for GWS, Swans ahead of derby
Posted on 04/27/20 8:41 PM
The depth of Sydney’s two AFL clubs will be tested as much as their premiership credentials on Saturday, when Spotless Stadium hosts the city’s 15th derby.
Sydney will be forced to omit luckless backman Alex Johnson, who requires a sixth knee reconstruction, and hamstrung small defender Nick Smith, who will miss the rest of the season.
GWS defensive general Heath Shaw will undergo a medial ligament operation that will put him out of action for four months, the latest blow in the expansion club’s injury-cursed campaign.
“It’s pretty nasty,” Giants coach Leon Cameron said of the 283-game veteran’s knee injury.
Josh Kelly (concussion) and Sam Reid (hamstring) are also set to be enforced omissions for the Giants.
The setbacks extend a year of injury hell for both clubs, who will have a handful of listed players running out for their reserves in the curtain raiser.
The stakes have never been so high in a regular-season meeting between GWS and Sydney, who sit third and sixth respectively amid a congested scramble for top-four spots.
Neither side is interested in whingeing about injuries.
“We’ve both got similar situations. We just have to deal with what’s in front of us,” Swans coach John Longmire told reporters.
“We’ve used 36 players this year and we feel as though we’ve got a bit to draw upon. I’m sure the Giants are the same.
“You go through periods when you get tested in depth.”
Cameron, sitting alongside Longmire at Tuesday’s joint press conference, nodded in furious agreement.
“It’s disappointing,” he said.
“Injuries happen to every footy club. Some more than others, sometimes you get them at the wrong time.
“It gives a great opportunity to the players playing well in the NEAFL, like Jeremy Finlayson, Harry Perryman. These sort of guys have a chance to put their hand up.”
Shaw’s slim hopes of returning deep into September were ruined by follow-up scans.
“He’s going to be sorely missed in our back end, because he’s been there for the last four years,” Cameron said.
Cameron is yet to give up hope that Kelly will face the Swans, seven days after being knocked out in the sling tackle that cost Adelaide captain Taylor Walker a two-game ban.
But he admitted the gun midfielder is “more unlikely than likely”.
The Swans will recall speedster Zak Jones, who has served a two-game suspension, and possibly key defender Heath Grundy, who has missed Sydney’s past two games because of mental health issues.
Both coaches were unwilling to stir the pot on Tuesday, offering only compliments ahead of the crunch clash.
“It’s not just about the rivalry this week. Spots on the ladder are crucial, finals spots are up for grabs. It’s going to be a great game,” Cameron said.