Geelong have taken a punt on Joel Selwood for Thursday’s AFL round-one clash with Adelaide by picking their skipper despite a severe lack of match practice.
Selwood suffered a minor hamstring complaint during the first term of Geelong’s pre-season clash with Melbourne in Alice Springs on February 28 and was rested for the trial match against North Melbourne on March 7.
However Cats’ coach Chris Scott is confident Geelong’s high-intensity training has given Selwood a solid preparation despite his lack of match conditioning, playing only one quarter of football over the pre-season.
Injury-plagued former North Melbourne big man Hamish McIntosh, who hasn’t played an AFL game for the Cats since joining the club late in 2012, has been named in the ruck.
McIntosh has won selection ahead of Dawson Simpson, who’s an emergency. Athletic ruck/forward Mark Blicavs is on the bench.
Brownlow Medallist Jimmy Bartel notch his 250th game on Thursday night, becoming the 12th Geelong player to reach the milestone.
Bartel, a midfielder who was used in defence in 2013, is set for a new forward role this season and has been named on the wing.
With both sides facing heavy injury tolls in pre-season, the Cats have named 177cm small forward Lincoln McCarthy for his second game and first since 2012.
Ex-Cat James Podsiadly and former Blue Eddie Betts have been included in Adelaide’s half-forward line alongside superstar Patrick Dangerfield.
Podsiadly, who ventures back “home” as the enemy for the first time, will be an important marking target for the Crows with Taylor Walker out of action because of injury.
“It will be a bit strange, seeing big Podra running around for the Crows,” Bartel told the AFL website on Wednesday.
“He was a big part of our 2011 premiership, so I hope he goes well, but not this Thursday.”
Geelong are missing key players such as Steven Motlop and Allen Christensen, ruck/forward Nathan Vardy, plus Billie Smedts, Daniel Menzel, Shane Kersten and George Burbury.
The Crows are without skipper Nathan van Berlo, former club champion Richard Douglas and key forwards Tom Lynch and Walker, while Andy Otten, Ricky Henderson and Rory Laird are also unavailable.
Adelaide, 11th in 2013, will start as underdogs against last year’s preliminary finalists.
The Crows have had a difficult build-up to the game although coach Brenton Sanderson says he’s confident the players are in a good “head space” following Dean Bailey’s death.
Sanderson has ruled out using Bailey’s passing as extra motivation for Thursday’s match.
Former Adelaide strategy and innovation coach Bailey died last week from cancer.
Sanderson said Bailey won’t be mentioned in the pre-game address.
The coach said he’ll leave it up to the players to use their own inspiration.