IT LOOMED as one of the toughest selection conundrums any team has faced this season.
When it came out on Monday that key defender Jake Carlisle was rubbed out for two weeks after he collected Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt in the head with a swinging right arm, the options down back were sparse.
Adding to the challenge was West Coast's forward line, which is as potent as any in the competition. Jack Darling is in the form of his life, Josh Kennedy has won two Coleman Medals and Scott Lycett is a dangerous third target.
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The loss of Carlisle couldn't have come at a worse time, considering Nathan Brown was already dealing with a right knee injury.
Logan Austin was Brown's replacement and another had to be found.
In the end, the Saints opted for Rowan Marshall, who has largely been used up forward in his six matches.
Marshall, who will offer Tom Hickey relief in the ruck, is expected to be the match-up for the 203cm Lycett.
The other main options were Hugh Goddard and Darragh Joyce.
Draftee Oscar Clavarino has shown improvement over the past month, but the gangly 19-year-old needs more development before he's ready for the elite level.
"Both were certainly in the mix. Hugh was spoken about at length and Darragh was spoken about at length," Sandringham coach Aaron Hamill told AFL.com.au.
Goddard is finding his feet after two years ruined by a torn Achilles tendon and turf toe, and has been tried up forward recently at VFL level, while Irishman Darragh Joyce was named as an emergency for the first time in his career last week.
Goddard has played nine games, the last of which was almost two years ago, while Joyce and Clavarino are yet to debut.
Marshall, 22, has not spent a lot of time down back but was occasionally thrown into defence last year in the VFL and was again last Sunday against Werribee.
"He's a good contested player, he understands the team defence dynamics and he's a good contest player. He certainly gives you good ball use coming out of defence, so he's got really good capabilities in there, as well as being a second ruck," Hamill said.
Rowan Marshall takes on Max Gawn in the JLT Series. Picture: AFL Photos
Goddard has played all seven of the Zebras' matches this year and has spent time where the team has needed him.
"We quite like what he has to offer up forward, in terms of his winning or halving the contest and his ability to compete for us," Hamill said.
"We like him up forward but we know he's very comfortable down back as well."