CLASSY Gold Coast utility Jack Lukosius and GWS midfield star Jacob Hopper have been named to make their long-awaited returns from injury in their crucial Smithy's VFL clashes on Sunday.
Hopper hurt his knee in the Giants' AFL Round 1 loss to Sydney way back in March and will play his first match in four months when the Giants aim to end their form slump against Box Hill Hawks at Giants Stadium on Sunday morning.
Lukosius hasn't played since suffering a knee injury in the AFL against the Swans in Round 8 and the Suns have decided to give him a run at VFL level against Coburg at Piranha Park to get some match practice ahead of a likely quick return to the top team.
James Tsitas will make his long-awaited AFL debut for the Suns a week after playing his 100th VFL match and after more than 150 at State league level in a true reward for persistence.
Coburg will finally unveil off-season ruck recruit Jono Marsh for his VFL debut to provide some assistance to Adam Swierzbiolek.
Marsh, 25, played 42 SANFL matches for Central District from 2019-21 and averaged 23.76 hitouts per game across 17 matches last year with a best of 38 against Sturt.
He also made six NEAFL appearances for Sydney University in 2018.
Casey Demons regain captain Mitch White for their 500th VFL-era match against Port Melbourne at Casey Fields, with the Borough welcoming former Demon Corey Wagner and last week's late withdrawal Will Reinhold, but they have lost ruckman Paul Hunter and another ex-Demon Mitch Lewis to illness on Friday afternoon.
Northern Bullants will wear the PFC monogram for the second time this season as they continue their 140th birthday celebration, with Andrew Courtney and Ryan Gardner coming into the team.
The Seagulls have been boosted by the returns of Corey Rich and Noah Gown, with Daly Andrews and Darcy Fritsch losing their spots.
Will Arthurson, Jackson Voss and Bill Mackay return for Frankston's Saturday night home clash against Geelong, but Ryley Stoddart will miss.
Werribee has also been boosted as it looks to bounce back from last week's shock loss to the Borough, with Josh Porter, Reuben William and Jack Driscoll among the inclusions, although they will be without Sam Conway.
FOOTSCRAY will finally welcome premiership player Mitch Hannan back into the team for its must-win Smithy’s VFL match against the Brisbane Lions at Moreton Bay’s Red Rooster Park on Friday afternoon.
Hannan hasn’t played since being concussed against Sydney in Round 3 of the AFL season back at the start of April, but will join Josh Bruce, Lachie Hunter and Toby McLean in returning from long-term layoffs in recent weeks.
He returns to the team that stunned Box Hill Hawks last week alongside Louis Butler, Cody Raak and Will Lewis, with St Bedes-Mentone youngster Kyle Stretton to make his VFL debut.
Dom Bedendo earned a well-deserved AFL debut on Thursday night alongside Hunter’s return, while ruckman Stefan Martin is unfortunately injured again and Josh Chatfield and Josh Gilbee also go out.
The Lions have been boosted by the returns of Mitch Robinson, Deven Robertson and Tom Berry from the AFL team, replacing the promoted Callum Ah Chee, plus James Madden and Harry Arnold.
3.BRISBANE LIONS (8-3) v 14.FOOTSCRAY (5-7)
Friday, July 1, 12.05pm @ Red Rooster Park
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Never Met
IN: T.Berry, M. Robinson, D. Robertson
OUT: C. Ah Chee (AFL), H. Arnold, J. Madden
IN: L. Butler, M. Hannan, W. Lewis, C. Raak, K. Stretton
OUT: D. Bedendo, L. Hunter (AFL), S. Martin (shoulder), J. Chatfield, J. Gilbee
DEBUT: Kyle Stretton, 20, 180cm, 80kg, St Bedes-Mentone
Prediction: Brisbane Lions by 22
17.ESSENDON (4-8) v 6.SYDNEY (7-4)
Saturday, July 2, 10.35am @ Windy Hill
HEAD-TO-HEAD: South Melbourne 18-10-1. At Windy Hill: Never Met. Streak: South Melbourne 1 (last loss June 13, 1896). Last Time: South Melbourne 5.6 36 def Essendon 3.0 18 (Lake Oval, August 15, 1896)
IN: N. Bryan, J. Brown, D. Landt, E. Mackinlay, M Simpson, K. Weightman
OUT: B. Zerk-Thatcher (AFL), K. Baldwin, T. Cutler, A. Francis (managed), A. Hird, B. Laguda
DEBUT: Ewan Mackinlay, 18, 181cm, 72kg, Holbrook/Murray Bushrangers
IN: R. Clarke, H. Cunningham, P. Ladhams, L McAndrew, H. McLean, L. Taylor, C. Webster
OUT: K. Bradtke (Corowa-Rutherglen), T. Alker, S. Barkley, D. Cordell, M. Geddes, I. Kirk, H Morrison (omit)
DEBUT: Christian Webster, 17, 194cm, Swans Academy
Prediction: Sydney by 31
1.CASEY DEMONS (12-0) v 15.PORT MELBOURNE (4-7)
Saturday, July 2, 1.05pm @ Casey Fields
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Casey Demons 31-29-1. At Casey Fields: Casey Demons 6-4. Streak: Port Melbourne 1 (last loss May 26, 2018). Last Time: Port Melbourne 18, 2019)
IN: B. Milford, M. White
OUT: G. Grey (omit), A. Moniz-Wakefield (managed)
IN: J. Hotchkin, W.Reinhold, C.Wagner
OUT: P. Hunter, M. Lewis (illness), A. Hanrahan
Prediction: Casey Demons by 47
11.WERRIBEE (6-5) v 18.NORTH MELBOURNE (3-8)
Saturday, July 2, 2.05pm @ Avalon Airport Oval
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Werribee 2-1. At Chirnside Park: Werribee 2-0. Streak: North Melbourne 1. Last Time: North Melbourne 14.4 88 def Werribee 12.11 83 (Arden St, June 26, 2021)
IN: J. Driscoll, T. McCaffrey, S. Paea, J. Porter, R. William
OUT: S. Clohesy, A. Lual, D. Sharrock (omit), S. Conway, M. Keast
IN: J. Edwards, J. Guthrie, K. Hayden, J. Lipscombe, F. Perez, C. Weightman
OUT: A. Bosenavulagi, C. Lazzaro, J. Mahony (AFL), P. Spicer (AFL emerg), Z. Monkhorst (omit), D. Tyson
Prediction: Werribee by 35
16.FRANKSTON (4-7) v 13.GEELONG (6-5)
Saturday, July 2, 7.05pm @ Skybus Stadium
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Geelong 20-4. At Frankston Park: Geelong 8-2. Frankston has not won at Frankston Park since May 8, 2005 (6 losses). Streak: Geelong 11 (15 out of 16) (last loss August 30, 2008). Last Time: Geelong 19.13 127 def Frankston 5.8 38 (Kardinia Park, June 22, 2019)
IN: W. Arthurson, B. Mackay, J. Voss
OUT: J. Stern (omit), J. Burton, R. Stoddart
IN: J. Pitt, J. Leonard, N. Stevens, B. Worme
OUT: T. Conway (managed), M. Lloyd, L. Waddell (illness), T. Panuccio (omit)
DEBUT: J. Pitt, 27, 192cm, 93kg, Leopold
Prediction: Frankston by 5
7.RICHMOND (7-5) v 10.COLLINGWOOD (6-5)
Sunday, July 3, 11.05am @ Swinburne Centre
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Collingwood 12-6-1. At Punt Rd Oval: Collingwood 5-2 – Richmond has not beaten Collingwood at Punt Rd since August 11, 1894 (4 losses). Streak: Collingwood 1 (last loss July 26, 2019). Last Time: Collingwood 16.10 106 def Richmond 15.11 101 (Punt Rd, July 11, 2021)
IN: J. Clarke, F. Elliot, K. Lambert
OUT: J. Castagna (AFL), J. McGrath, N. Oakes
IN: I. Chugg, C. Murley, T. Roberts
OUT: A. Begg (managed), C. Mulvogue, M. Wetering (omit)
Prediction: Richmond by 3
8.GWS GIANTS (6-4-1) v 5.BOX HILL HAWKS (7-4)
Saturday, July 3, 11.35am @ Giants Stadium
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Never Met
IN: J. Brander, K. Briggs, L. Fellows, E. Hollard, J. Hopper, B. Preuss, S. Quirk, B. Rauter, J. Riccardi, B. Stewart
OUT: P. Davis, X. O'Halloran, T. Taranto (AFL), X. Barry-Murphy, K. Veerhuis (omit), L. Benton, C. Edwards, M. Monaghan, L. Ross
DEBUT: Euriah Hollard, 18, 178cm, 74kg, Lavington/Geelong Falcons
BOX HILL HAWKS
IN: D. Brinker-Ritchie, M. Hall, D. Howe, J. Parsons, L. Shiels, J. Thorpe
OUT: F. Greene (concussion), J. Saunders (managed), B. Grey, S. Horner, D. Mascitti (omit), M. Hawkins
Prediction: GWS by 13
19.COBURG (2-9) v 12.GOLD COAST (6-5)
Sunday, July 3, 2.15pm @ Piranha Park
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Coburg 1-0. At Coburg City Oval: Never Met. Streak: Coburg 1 (Never lost). Last Time: Coburg 17.21 123 def Gold Coast 11.10 76 (Highgate Reserve, June 12, 2010)
IN: J. Kemp, J. Marsh, D. Thomas
OUT: A. Lukic, M. Thompson, J. Watson (omit)
NEW: Jonathan Marsh, 25, 203cm, 101kg, Central District
IN: S. Brock, M. Ferres, J. Lukosius
OUT: J. Tsitas (AFL), A. Sexton (managed), M. Dumas
Prediction: Gold Coast by 10
20.NORTHERN BULLANTS (1-11) v 21.WILLIAMSTOWN (1-11)
Sunday, July 3, 2.15pm @ Genis Steel Oval
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Williamstown 105-58. At Preston City Oval: Williamstown 37-36. Streak: Williamstown 4 (8 out of 9) (last loss April 22, 2017). Last Time: Williamstown 14.15 99 def Northern Bullants 6.11 47 (Preston City Oval, April 18, 2021)
IN: A. Courtney, R. Gardner
OUT: K. Jiath, L. Kolar (omit)
IN: N. Gown, C. Rich
OUT: D. Andrews, D. Fritsch (omit)
Prediction: Northern Bullants by 1
BYE: Carlton, Sandringham, Southport
Brendan Rhodes’ winners: Last Round: 6. Season: 89½
All Smithy’s VFL matches in 2022 can be viewed live and free. The VFL Match of the Round will be televised each week on Channel 7, with all other matches livestreamed via vfl.com.au and the AFL Live Official App. Radio station 3WBC will also again be broadcasting Box Hill Hawks matches.
To access live scores, results, ladder, stats and to link to live streams/replays, download the VFL/W Official App from the Apple or Google Play app stores.
Keep track of your Smithy’s VFL team via our VFL Match Centre, which features live scores, team and player stats, match timeline, events summary and Fantasy points. Check it out at (https://www.afl.com.au/vfl/fixture)