Adelaide Crows

Get them in: Tom Lynch (calf), Wayne Milera (calf) and Cam Ellis-Yolmen (shin) are set to return for Saturday's Showdown with Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval. Draftee Chayce Jones and utility David Mackay – who both had 19 disposals in the SANFL – will come into consideration to add leg speed.

Under the pump: Bryce Gibbs could be dropped again after a quiet game in last Friday night's loss to Geelong. Midfielder/forward Hugh Greenwood and debutant Ben Davis will also be under pressure.

Medical room: Lynch, Milera and Ellis-Yolmen will be assessed this week. Co-captain Taylor Walker is expected to be right to play despite a minor elbow injury.

Verdict: Three changes – Lynch, Milera and Ellis-Yolmen, for Davis, Gibbs and Greenwood. – Lee Gaskin

NINE THINGS WE LEARNED Star Crow's fall defies belief

Brisbane Lions

Get them in: Another week, another thumping NEAFL win. Nick Robertson kicked five goals among 21 touches, while Ryan Bastinac's 36 disposals also caught the eye. Josh Walker, Sam Skinner and Matt Eagles could all come into calculations as another tall defender.

Under the pump: A strong win over Melbourne, but young defender Brandon Starcevich might fall victim to the "last in, first out" dilemma. 

Medical room: Ruckman Oscar McInerney will be assessed through the week for concussion and his availability for the weekend is not yet known. He was an onlooker at Tuesday's training session. Alex Witherden has overcome the dose of the flu that forced him to be a late withdrawal.

Verdict: Coach Chris Fagan said recently he would select "horses for courses", so with three big GWS forwards, this is a headache. Eagles has the speed and height to go with Harry Himmelberg if the Lions want to make a change, but Ryan Lester deserves to retain his spot despite being slightly outsized. Witherden returning for Starcevich seems logical. – Michael Whiting

The 'Big O' will be assessed after copping a massive hit against the Demons. Picture: AFL Photos


Get them in: It was another strong performance for Darcy Lang in the VFL, with the midfielder winning 25 disposals and laying eight tackles for the Northern Blues. Hugh Goddard was again solid in defence, claiming 21 disposals and nine marks.

Under the pump: The Blues might like the mix they found against the Dockers. In terms of numbers, Paddy Dow was the club's quietest performer, but the youngster still did some nice things and kicked an important goal.

Medical room: Co-captain Patrick Cripps will be touch-and-go as he recovers from a sprained foot, though star forward Charlie Curnow appears unlikely to recover from a knee problem. The Blues will wait on fellow forward duo Harry McKay and David Cuningham, who both missed the trip to Perth due to soreness.

Verdict: A lot will depend on fitness tests later this week. Cripps, McKay and Cuningham will be certainties to come into the team if deemed fit to play, though Curnow appears unlikely at this stage. - Riley Beveridge

Adding Patrick Cripps and Harry McKay to a winning outfit will make the Blues stronger. Picture: AFL Photos


Get them in: Small forward Jamie Elliott has been passed fit and defender James Aish could return after being a late withdrawal last round. Regular emergency Ben Crocker, veteran utility Tyson Goldsack and potential debutant Tyler Brown could also be in the frame. As crazy as it sounds, mid-season draftee and line-breaking half-back/wingman John Noble might even enter the discussion after just two VFL games.

Under the pump: The injury to fellow key forward Ben Reid might well have saved Mason Cox his spot in the team. Since returning from an ankle injury the 'American Pie' has kicked five goals in three games but has been decidedly rusty.

Medical room: Elliott (hamstring) is available after seven weeks on the sidelines, while midfielder Brayden Sier (concussion) and Aish (hamstring soreness) will be assessed.

Verdict: Elliott will return along with Aish (if fit) and replace Reid and possibly Sier. - Ben Collins


Get them in: Essendon will need to replace injured ruckman Tom Bellchambers, so looks set to recall Zac Clarke to face Sydney on Saturday. Michael Hartley could come back into the side if Essendon wants to persist with Cale Hooker forward, while Mark Baguley, Will Snelling and David Myers played well in the VFL.

Under the pump: Josh Begley was quiet against Greater Western Sydney he booted three goals against West Coast the previous week, so should retain his spot. 

Medical room: Again the attention will be on forward Jake Stringer, who has not played since hurting his leg against Hawthorn in round 13. The Bombers say they don't know when he will be available, making it a week-to-week assessment. Matt Guelfi missed last week with soreness after being shoved into the fence. 

Verdict: Clarke will come back to play the Swans, but don't expect too many unforced changes after Essendon's comeback win over the Giants. Guelfi could also return to replace Martin Gleeson, who came in last week as his cover. - Callum Twomey

BARRETT The 'Any Given Sunday' era has finally arrived


Get them in: If Rory Lobb and Aaron Sandilands are fit the Dockers have some decisions to make. Does Taylin Duman come back in for defensive support after 21 touches for Peel, should Ryan Nyhuis be recalled for a lockdown role and has Travis Colyer done enough coming off 22 touches and two goals?

Under the pump: A few will be feeling the heat after a shock loss to Carlton. Brett BewleyBailey BanfieldSean Darcy and Brennan Cox might be nervous. 

Medical room: Lobb (foot) should be back less than a month after the club feared he was gone for the year, and Sandilands is likely to play his first game at any level after repeat calf woes.

Verdict: This a tough selection ahead of a crunch Western Derby, but Lobb comes in for Cox, Darcy is replaced by Sandilands and either Banfield or Bewley is omitted for Duman. – Travis King

Rory Lobb is in line to make a miraculous comeback after a foot injury. Picture: AFL Photos

Geelong Cats

Get them in: Zac Smith was close last week and impressed again in the VFL with two goals. Having him as the No.1 ruck and Rhys Stanley more forward is a consideration, with Wylie Buzza not out of the frame as a forward/ruck. James Parsons (28 disposals), Scott Selwood (22 and nine tackles) and Sam Simpson (23) are next in line in the midfield.

Under the pump: Lachie Fogarty will be better for the run but remains on the edge. Rhys Stanley was moved out of the ruck in the second half last week and has been quiet for the past fortnight. The Cats played eight defenders in order to fit Jed Bews back in as Jack Henry started forward. One may have to make way if the Cats want the typical No.1 ruck with another forward/ruck option.

Medical room: Patrick Dangerfield did very little in Monday's skills session but is expected to build up his training as the week progresses and be fit to play. After a hamstring setback at training last week, Esava Ratugolea is set to spend at least another match on the sidelines. Gary Rohan should be right to return from concussion. 

Verdict: Rohan for Fogarty. Bews or Henry for Buzza or Smith which will allow Mark Blicavs to return to defence to take Aaron Naughton. – Mitch Cleary

The addition of ruckman Zac Smith could free up other options for the Cats. Picture: AFL Photos

FANTASY FORM WATCH Lion king reigns with bye rounds over

Gold Coast Suns

Get them in: A bag of six goals against Sydney in the NEAFL should make Josh Corbett difficult to overlook. George Horlin-Smith and Jordan Murdoch also impressed.

Under the pump: Young wingman Wil Powell struggled against Sydney with just four disposals, while Ben King battled in a forward line starved of opportunities.

Medical room: No fresh injuries for the Suns but Sean Lemmens is likely to return in the NEAFL following a long layoff with an ankle injury. Nick Holman is battling to overcome a back complaint that kept him out last week.

Verdict: Despite a poor loss last week, hard to see many, if any, changes. Most of the Gold Coast players struggling for form are the youngsters – who need to be persisted with during this rebuild – and guys fresh back from injury. – Michael Whiting

GWS Giants

Get them in: Club champion Lachie Whitfield will train fully this week after recovering from a broken collarbone and should be back to face Brisbane on Sunday. Speedy forward Ian 'Bobby' Hill had his best game in the NEAFL last week and is pressing hard for a debut, while Daniel LloydIsaac CummingAiden Bonar and Nick Shipley are also in good touch.

Under the pump: With Whitfield likely to return to his role across half-forward, Brent Daniels or Zac Langdon could find themselves on the outer.

Medical room: Whitfield trained well on Tuesday and will increase his work on Thursday, but Aidan Corr remains a couple of weeks away with his calf issue.

Verdict: Whitfield to come in for Langdon. – Adam Curley


Get them in: Mitch Lewis seems a strong chance to return, while untried midfielder Harry Jones' time might also have come, thanks to a second straight week with 28 disposals for Box Hill. Grant Birchall played only the first half again, but had 13 possessions, so could he be promoted or are the Hawks playing the long game? Ben Stratton is available after suspension, and James Cousins will be a contender, too. 

Under the pump: Defender Tim O'Brien had a torrid day against Jack Darling, while Dylan Moore struggled to have an influence in attack. Do Ollie Hanrahan and Conor Nash maintain their spots, or were they picked to fit last week's conditions?

Medical room: All eyes are on Chad Wingard (hamstring) and Jack Scrimshaw (knee), who will return this week or next, barring a setback. Jarryd Roughead (ribs/side strain) was also unavailable for the West Coast game. Marc Pittonet and Ryan Schoenmakers were ruled out before last weekend despite not being on the injury list. Mathew Walker (concussion) and Jacob Koschitzke (hip) resumed in the VFL.

Verdict: Anyone's guess. Stratton's return is the one certainty, probably at O'Brien's expense, but expect multiple changes. – Marc McGowan


Get them in: Ruckman Braydon Preuss had 17 disposals and 64 hitouts for Casey. Corey Maynard picked up 24 disposals himself and laid 13 tackles, while Jay Kennedy Harris had 23 and booted three goals. 

Under the pump: Down back, Harrison Petty isn't a lock, and Tim Smith was quiet in the loss to Brisbane.

Medical room: The Demons will be desperately hoping Max Gawn overcomes a rolled left ankleJake Lever is dealing with bone bruising in his reconstructed left knee.

Verdict: If Lever is fit, he takes Petty's spot. Preuss replaces Gawn if the dual All Australian is ruled out. - Dinny Navaratnam

North Melbourne

Get them in: There is no conceivable reason Paul Ahern won't return to AFL ranks this week. VFL coach David Loader called Ahern's weekend performance "absolutely outstanding", and he added seven tackles to his 31 disposals. Jamie Macmillan also won a bucketload of the Sherrin at state league level after a calf-related layoff.

Under the pump: The Roos backed in Sam Durdin last week despite Macmillan being fit to play, so it'll be interesting to see what happens after the 23-year-old's best performance of the season. Could Luke McDonald go out instead?

Medical room: Majak Daw is set to play his first match this year in the VFL on Sunday, barely six months after sustaining serious hip and pelvis injuries in a fall from a Melbourne bridge. Aaron Hall (knee) and Dom Tyson (calf) could return in the same game, while Macmillan and Sam Wright (ankle) resumed in the VFL last weekend. Star defender Robbie Tarrant isn't on the Roos' injury list despite pulling up a bit sore post-match on Saturday night. Youngsters Kyron Hayden (Achilles) and Will Walker (knee) are out for the season.

Verdict: Ahern and Macmillan for Hayden and Durdin. – Marc McGowan

Port Adelaide

Get them in: Tom Rockliff – fresh off a record 57 disposals in the SANFL – and Justin Westhoff (37 and three goals) are strong chances to return for Saturday's Showdown with Adelaide at Adelaide Oval. Paddy Ryder, Sam Powell-Pepper and Jarrod Lienert will be considered, while Karl Amon and Dougal Howard return from suspension.

Under the pump: Heads are set to roll after last weekend's shock loss to the Western Bulldogs. Willem Drew, Kane Farrell, Joel Garner, Peter Ladhams, Steven Motlop and Riley Bonner are among those in the firing line.

Medical room: The Power don't have anyone returning from injury.

Verdict: I'm predicting four changes. Amon, Howard, Rockliff and Westhoff come into the side, replacing Drew, Farrell, Garner and Ladhams. Co-captain Ollie Wines hangs on despite having just 12 disposals against the Bulldogs last week. - Lee Gaskin

Tom Rockliff banged down the selectors' door with a massive SANFL performance. Picture: AFL Photos

THE RUN HOME Is Port too unreliable to play finals?


Get them in: There were a host of players returning to VFL, but midfielder Mav Weller was named the team's best with 26 touches and a goal. Jacob Townsend put in yet another typically tough performance with 19 disposals, 12 tackles and three goals. After being told to "get the fun back", Jack Higgins kicked two goals in the first quarter and had 26 touches playing both in the middle and up forward.

Under the pump: Dan Rioli was the quietest of Richmond's rotating cast of small forwards, but saying that, still had 10 touches and kicked a goal.

Medical room: After a whopping six players returned from injury to face St Kilda, there aren't going to be any further additions this week. Both AFL and VFL teams also got through unscathed.

Verdict:  Richmond may be unchanged for the first time this season ahead of its match against Gold Coast, but if Damien Hardwick is keen to get Higgins back, Rioli could make way. – Sarah Black

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St Kilda

Get them in: Since North Melbourne has more tall forwards than Richmond, key backman Nathan Brown looks a logical inclusion. He's impressed since being relegated to the VFL. Dropped wingman Jack Newnes had 25 disposals for Sandringham, while rookie onballer Doulton Langlands is edging closer to a debut.

Under the pump: Youngster Ben Paton could be squeezed out.

Medical room: Defender Jimmy Webster is dealing with a right hand issue but is no certainty to be available. He might have to return via Sandringham anyway, having been out since round eight.

Verdict: Brown for Paton. - Dinny Navaratnam

Defender Nathan Brown appears a logical inclusion to take on North Melbourne. Picture: AFL Photos

Sydney Swans

Get them in: The Swans need to find a replacement for injured ruckman Callum Sinclair, but with Sam Naismith (knee) and Darcy Cameron (quad) already out, rookie Michael Knoll is their only fit big man. Jarrad McVeigh (hamstring) could be available for the clash with Essendon but whether he comes in at AFL level remains to be seen. Harry Cunningham (groin) could also be ready to resume, while Kieren JackRyan ClarkeRobbie Fox and Daniel Menzel will also be considered.

Under the pump: With five wins from their past seven games, the Swans are travelling well, so coach John Longmire might not make any unforced changes.

Medical room: Sinclair will miss at least three games and might still need season-ending surgery if his rehabilitation doesn't go as planned.

Verdict: Fox in for Sinclair, with Aliir Aliir and Sam Reid to share the ruck duties. – Adam Curley

West Coast Eagles

Get them in: The Eagles missed the aerial presence of key backmen Jeremy McGovern (suspension) and Tom Barrass (corked calf) against Hawthorn and both will be back for the derby.

Under the pump: Tough half-back Jackson Nelson has done nothing wrong since coming in for the past two games but shapes as an unlucky omission, though Oscar Allen or Jarrod Cameron might make way.

Medical room: Barrass should be ready to go, while tagger Mark Hutchings will miss with a hamstring strain. 

Verdict: McGovern and Barrass for Hutchings and Nelson. – Travis King

AROUND THE STATE LEAGUES Veteran Dog returns, Port stars dominate

Western Bulldogs

Get thein: Midfielder Toby McLean and forward Ben Cavarra were standouts in a 49-point VFL win over Port Melbourne. McLean battled through the wet conditions and had 30 disposals after being omitted from the senior side last week, while Cavarra showed his football nous with four goals. Veteran Dale Morris made his return from a knee injury and got through the game, picking up 11 possessions and four marks. 

Under the pump: A gutsy win against Port Adelaide following a gallant loss to Collingwood the previous round gives the settled side in the past fortnight real credence. Torrential rain at Adelaide Oval made it more about effort than pin-point skills and the Bulldogs passed that test. Midfielder Ed Richards has found himself on the edge most of this season, but he would be a fraction stiff.

Medical room: All Australian candidate Caleb Daniel will miss the next 3-4 weeks due to a hamstring injury. The Dogs are likely to regain Mitch Wallis from an ankle injury that has kept him out for the last three games.

Verdict: McLean in for the unavailable Daniel. Morris needs at least one or two more weeks in the VFL and he might be joined by Wallis if the likes of Richards hold their spot. - Paul Bastin