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In the mix: round one

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AFL 2017 Portraits - GWS Giants

Former Docker Tendai Mzungu is a chance to make his debut for the Giants

All the talk this week in South Australia centres around the fitness of Crows stars Rory Sloane and Taylor Walker. Both will have to complete Thursday's main training session to be considered for Sunday's round one encounter with Greater Western Sydney at Adelaide Oval. Sloane is recovering from a fractured eye socket, while Walker has a hamstring complaint. Defender Jake Lever will also be touch and go for the season opener with his own hamstring issue. Defenders Andy Otten and Jake Kelly impressed during the JLT Community Series, while Kyle Cheney is returning from a groin injury. Curtly Hampton looks to have done enough to earn himself his first game for the Crows, coincidentally against his former side. Ex-Carlton forward Troy Menzel is also a chance to make his Crows debut. - Lee Gaskin

The Lions will go largely with the team they fielded in 2016 when they travel down the Pacific Highway to take on Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night. Greater Western Sydney recruit Jake Barrett played all three JLT Community Series games and could be upgraded to the senior list to make his Lions debut. The club's other off-season buy, former Collingwood fullback Jack Frost, is suspended and will have to wait until round two. Highly-fancied draft pick Hugh McCluggage (ankle) is likely another week or two away, while forward Josh Schache (knee) is still a chance to play, but unlikely at this stage. - Michael Whiting

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Utility Dylan Buckley (hip) and ruckman/forward Daniel Gorringe (Achilles), injured during the JLT Community Series, are available for selection for Thursday night's season's opener. In the Northern Blues' last practice game against Box Hill, Kristian Jaksch and Liam Jones performed well in attack. Jaksch has kicked seven goals in his past two practice games. Nick Graham (33 disposals) was prolific in the middle. Ruckman Andrew Phillips is making solid progress on the track after suffering a stress reaction in his left foot in January. He is running, but not in full training as yet. Sam Petrevski-Seton, Carlton's No. 1 selection in last year's NAB AFL Draft, is back in full training and should be ready for selection soon. The young West Australian strained his quad last month, causing him to miss the pre-season. - Howard Kotton

The Magpies have already ruled out Daniel Wells (calf), Jamie Elliott (ankle), Jordan De Goey (broken hand) and Levi Greenwood (hip), which weakens their running brigade somewhat, but they hope the void will be filled by the likes of promising youngsters Tom Phillips and James Aish. Newcomers Chris Mayne (ex-Fremantle) and Will Hoskin-Elliott (ex-GWS) appear certain selections while fellow recruits in Lynden Dunn (ex-Melbourne) and elevated rookie Henry Schade (ex-Gold Coast) are locked in a battle for a key defensive post. It would surprise if the Pies didn't continue with their four talls – ruckman Brodie Grundy, forward/ruck Mason Cox and forward duo Darcy Moore and Jesse White. - Ben Collins

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The Bombers could feature at least a couple of new faces in their season-opening clash against Hawthorn on Saturday night. Key forward James Stewart, who crossed to the club after four years at Greater Western Sydney, might line up after showing good signs through the pre-season, as may ex-Brisbane Lions forward Josh Green, who kicked four goals in a VFL practice match last week. Important swingman Cale Hooker has been a touch-and-go proposition to play since hurting his hamstring but played his first game last week at VFL level and should face the Hawks, and No.1 pick Andy McGrath is a good chance to debut in round one. - Callum Twomey

Josh Green may debut for the Bombers against Hawthorn. Picture: AFL Photos

The Dockers took a relatively settled squad into their three JLT Community Series matches but small forward Hayden Ballantyne's hamstring injury has opened up at least one spot for Sunday's clash with Geelong. Hayden Crozier, who had 26 disposals and booted a goal for Peel on Saturday night, looks a readymade replacement. Tommy Sheridan picked up 24 touches for the Thunder in a lively display across half-back and on a wing to also keep his name in the selection frame. Draftee ruckman Sean Darcy (13 touches, 22 hit-outs) is behind Jonathon Griffin in the pecking order but did his growing reputation no harm up against Jonathan Giles, while yet-to-debut Harley Balic (30 disposals), Ethan Hughes (23) and tall defender Sam Collins were also very good in Peel's triumph. Freo should have at least four new faces with recruits Bradley Hill, Cam McCarthy, Joel Hamling and Shane Kersten set to make club debuts against the Cats. - Travis King

Former Carlton defender Zach Tuohy will most likely make his club debut after three impressive pre-season games across half back. Midfielder Mitch Duncan and defender Tom Stewart will be available after scans cleared them of hamstring damage last week, with the latter a chance to make his AFL debut along with fellow 2016 draftee Brandan Parfitt, who also impressed over the summer. Young half-back Zach Guthrie could be in the frame if he's elevated to the senior list this week. Scott Selwood is very unlikely to play after missing all of the pre-season matches with a persistent toe injury, while Jake Kolodjashnij (groin), James Parsons (foot) and Cory Gregson (foot) are longer-term prospects. - Jennifer Phelan

There will be a lot of new faces in the Suns team that hosts the Brisbane Lions on Saturday night, led by former Lion Pearce Hanley. Hanley is one of four mature recruits expected to debut in the red and yellow, along with ruckman Jarrod Witts (Collingwood) and midfielders Michael Barlow (Fremantle) and Jarryd Lyons (Adelaide). All four have made immediate impacts in their first pre-season and should play a majority of the year. Draftees Ben Ainsworth (number four selection) and Jack Bowes (number 10) are also favoured to debut, while Sean Lemmens could come into calculations for a spot in the back pocket after a strong performance in the NEAFL at the weekend. - Michael Whiting

Former Fremantle midfielder Tendai Mzungu could be a surprise round one call up after being upgraded from the rookie list on Friday. Mzungu's experience and versatility could be a factor when Leon Cameron selects his side to take on Adelaide, with vice-captain Stephen Coniglio (ankle), Brett Deledio (calf) and another former Docker Matt de Boer (hamstring) all out injured. The Giants' top draft pick Tim Taranto looks a lock to debut against Adelaide after an outstanding JLT Community Series, with the teenager likely to spend most of his time forward. Jacob Hopper trained well in a solid session on Saturday after playing half a game in the reserves the week before, so he could also feature against the Crows. GWS took a cautious approach to his pre-season campaign after his heart surgery, and his 2016 back issues. Young defender Harry Himmelberg could be selected to give more height to the team with Aidan Corr (hand) already ruled out. - Adam Curley

It will almost certainly be a new-look Hawthorn line-up for the opening game of the season with at least three new players from rival clubs – Tom Mitchell (Sydney), Jaeger O'Meara (Gold Coast) and Tyrone Vickery (Richmond) – set to make their debuts and former Crow Ricky Henderson a sound chance to join them for the Saturday night blockbuster against Essendon at the MCG. Add new skipper Jarryd Roughead and it is a profoundly different side to that which exited last year's finals in straight sets. The Hawks have almost a full list to choose from, however those on the cusp of selection include Henderson, Kade Stewart, Billy Hartung, Will Langford, Ryan Schoenmakers, Ryan Burton and Brendan Whitecross. Will they try to stretch the Bombers for height, or inject more speed, given how zippy Essendon looked over the summer? It would be disappointing if tough midfielder Stewart was left out after an impressive summer. JLT form will count for plenty at selection given there was no Box Hill practice match last weekend for fringe players to press their claims. - Ashley Browne

Former Swan Tom Mitchell will bring his ballwinning skills to the Hawks. Picture: AFL Photos

Intrigue surrounds Jack Watts' place in the round one side after coach Simon Goodwin refused to declare he was an automatic selection against the Saints. The Demons also have some decisions to make on Dom Tyson (knee), Jeff Garlett (hamstring) and Dean Kent (back) who have all had limited match practice in the pre-season. Rookie defender Joel Smith is in the selection mix, with Sam Frost and now Colin Garland, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on the weekend, on the sidelines. Given the Saints have Paddy McCartin, Josh Bruce, Tim Membrey, as well as Nick Riewoldt in attack, Smith's height and versatility could prove to be handy. Back-up ruckman Jake Spencer is also in the frame to support Max Gawn, although the Demons will have to weigh up whether Spencer can impact the game up forward sufficiently to warrant selection. - Ben Guthrie

Key forward Ben Brown has pulled up well from his return match for Werribee last Saturday and will take his place alongside Jarrad Waite in North's forward line against West Coast. Majak Daw is likely to edge out Braydon Preuss and be named as the Roos' third tall forward/support ruckman. North's first pick in last year's NAB AFL Draft, Jy Simpkin, is set to make his AFL debut, while former Western Bulldogs forward Nathan Hrovat and ex-Collingwood defender Marley Williams are poised to make their club debuts. Third-year defenders Ed Vickers-Willis and Sam Durdin are also in contention to make their long-awaited debuts after impressive pre-season campaigns, but with old hands Sam Wright and Lachlan Hansen returning to the field over the past two weeks the youngsters will probably have to wait a little longer for their first senior games. Declan Mountford also enjoyed a promising JLT Community Series, but the run-with midfielder is another youngster likely to narrowly miss the round one cut. - Nick Bowen

The Power could field three debutants for their round one clash with grand finalist Sydney at the SCG on Saturday. Midfield bull Sam Powell-Pepper and 27-year-old rookie-listed forward Brett Eddy are certainties to face the Swans after impressive form in the JLT Community Series. Defender Dan Houston – who like Eddy was elevated to the senior list last week – has also firmed into contention with his quality ball use and decision making off half-back. Houston has his nose just in front of Riley Bonner, who played one game last season. Defender Matthew Broadbent could come straight into the side despite not playing any games in the pre-season competition because of a hamstring injury. Another potential first-gamer, midfielder Joe Atley – the younger brother of North Melbourne's Shaun – will also be spoken of highly among the match committee after his performances in the pre-season. Experienced duo Angus Monfries and Matt White probably need another week in the SANFL to build match fitness before they are considered. - Lee Gaskin

The Tigers have confirmed half-forward Dan Butler will make his debut, but there could be more surprises ahead of Thursday night. Rookie Jason Castagna impressed over the JLT Community Series and the rookie's pace and defensive pressure in attack is highly rated by the coaching group. Fellow rookie Mabior Chol also made a strong case in the final pre-season game, but it is likely tall forward Ben Griffiths will be preferred ahead of him in round one. The club has room to elevate both Castagna and Chol ahead of round one if it chooses. Others who are jockeying for selection are Kamdyn McIntosh and Oleg Markov, who have not been able to establish themselves in the Tigers' best team over the pre-season but have strong credentials. - Nathan Schmook

Dan Butler will run out for the first time for the Tigers. Picture: AFL Photos

A calf strain has seen Leigh Montagna ruled out but there should be at least three first-time Saints on the field against Melbourne on Saturday at Etihad Stadium – Jake Carlisle, Jack Steele and Nathan Brown. The trio played every match through the JLT Community Series and Carlisle and Brown will bolster what had been an undersized defence. Steele was in rehab for a foot and wrist injury after crossing over from the Giants but showed excellent form in the pre-season games. Jimmy Webster and Daniel McKenzie are like-for-like replacements for Montagna while Koby Stevens and Jack Lonie would offer more depth in the midfield and forward line. Don't expect to see much from the draftees this year. Ben Long might make his debut later in the season but Josh Battle, Ed Phillips and rookie Rowan Marshall need time to develop. - Dinny Navaratnam

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Former co-captain Kieren Jack remains a chance to line up against Port despite missing the JLT Community Series with a hip injury. The 29-year-old completed most of the pre-season but will need to train well this week to prove his fitness, given his only game this year was the Swans' intra-club clash in early February. Draftee Oliver Florent looms as a round one debutant after impressing during the pre-season matches, with defender Jack Maibaum and rookie Robbie Fox also smokies to make John Longmire's final 22 against the Power. Key defender Aliir Aliir looks good to go after overcoming a toe problem, after he completed his second hit out of the year against NEAFL side Sydney University on Saturday. - Adam Curley

The selection squeeze is on with five or six spots up for grabs. Defence is the main area of contention, with Eric Mackenzie, Tom Barrass and Will Schofield fighting for one or two positions to partner All Australian star Jeremy McGovern against North Melbourne's tall forward line. Mackenzie had the job in the final JLT hit-out, however Barrass (22 disposals, 10 marks, two goals) and Schofield (21 disposals, nine marks) impressed in East Perth's loss to Peel on Saturday night. Veteran defender Sam Butler (28 disposals) gave plenty of drive to push for round one. Former Geelong big man Nathan Vardy looks set to lead the ruck on club debut, alongside ex-Roos champion Drew Petrie in an emotional return to face his old team. Recognised ruckman Jonathan Giles isn't out of the equation, though. Ex-Hawks great Sam Mitchell will make his Eagles debut, while Jack Redden (26 disposals for East Perth) has stuck his hand up for a midfield berth after being left out of the final JLT clash. - Travis King

The Bulldogs should start their premiership defence against Collingwood on Friday night with 18 of the 22 that played in last year's Grand Final, with only second-year midfielder Josh Dunkley set to miss selection on form. Travis Cloke appears certain to play his first game in the red, white and blue, and the former Magpie will need to give Tom Boyd a chop out in the ruck with Jordan Roughead injured and Tom Campbell unlikely to play despite being available after an ankle injury. Impressive draftee Tim English won't be considered, as the ruckman is battling shin soreness. Tory Dickson also looms as notable absentee after the sharpshooter had a delayed start to the pre-season. Despite strong JLT form, explosive midfielder Lin Jong looks likely to miss out. Key defenders Fletcher Roberts and Marcus Adams have both had indifferent JLT campaigns, with the former likely to get the nod to face the Pies. - Ryan Davidson

Travis Cloke will make his Bulldog debut against former club Collingwood. Picture: AFL Photos

2017 AFL Tipping