A WEEK of selection intrigue looms in the build-up to the Grand Final on Saturday as both Greater Western Sydney and Richmond assess their casualty lists following bruising preliminary final encounters.
The Giants will monitor the fitness of their banged-up co-captain Phil Davis (back, calf, shoulder and finger) while hoping stars Lachie Whitfield (appendix) and Stephen Coniglio (knee) will join fellow matchwinner Toby Greene in a triumvirate of inclusions.
The Tigers also face some tough decisions of their own in their quest for a second flag in three seasons after 2017 premiership players Jack Graham (shoulder) and backman Nathan Broad (concussion) suffered mishaps in their 19-point win over Geelong at the MCG on Friday night.
Davis – the chief candidate to take on Tigers' power forward Tom Lynch – declared post-match he'd play in the Grand Final but he must be in some doubt after a trying night for the key defender.
The 29-year-old suffered a dislocated finger in the warm-up before experiencing back-related right calf soreness in the opening minutes, forcing him to play a predominantly deep forward role to ensure his team wasn't limited rotation-wise. Davis also battled a right shoulder problem.
Fellow tall backman Sam Taylor received stitches for a cut mouth but will be fine to take on the Tigers.
MARK OR SPOIL? Unsung GWS defender's game-defining call
Brilliant forward/midfielder Toby Greene will return from a one-game suspension but there is less certainty about Whitfield, while Coniglio remains only an outside chance.
Toby Greene with Heath Shaw (left) and Sam Reid (right) after the preliminary final. Picture: AFL Photos
Whitfield's appendix was removed just days before the preliminary final but coach Leon Cameron – who in 1993 played just 10 days after undergoing the same procedure – is bullish about the playmaker's prospects of appearing in the Grand Final.
Coniglio, a GWS vice-captain, hasn't played since the round 17 loss to Richmond at the MCG when he sustained a left knee injury that required surgery.
Cameron conceded that selecting the gun midfielder could be "a big risk" and Coniglio himself was anything but confident.
An even longer shot is veteran Brett Deledio, who will make a last-ditch attempt to prove he has overcome a calf injury and to convince selectors to pick him to take on his former club Richmond in what would be an emotional finale to his career.
Brett Deledio and coach Leon Cameron embrace after the Giants' win. Picture: AFL Photos
The Tigers, meanwhile, could be forced to replace Graham and Broad, with the club confirming decisions on their availability won't be made until the latter part of the week.
Defensive runner Graham was one of the great stories of Richmond's 2017 premiership but could prove one of the hard-luck stories of this campaign after endured a horror night with his right shoulder being dislocated four times.
The 21-year-old, whose shoulder first popped out midway through the first quarter, showed courage that coach Damien Hardwick lauded as "simply incredible" to play on and give his teammates some rotation relief.
However, Graham still holds out hope of playing in another Grand Final.
"I'm going to give myself every chance to put my hand up and play. Strap it up, do whatever, a few painkillers, but I'm not writing myself off that's for sure," he told Channel Seven.
An eight-day break between games could work in the favour of backman Broad, who copped friendly fire from teammate Jayden Short and an accidental knee from Cat Brandan Parfitt late in the third quarter and failed to take any further part in the contest.
Richmond captain Trent Cotchin will manage a bruised shin after a clash of legs with Cats skipper Joel Selwood at a centre bounce in the second term. Cotchin left the field in pain but eventually returned to play out the game.
Trent Cotchin gets treatment during Friday night's preliminary final. Picture: AFL Photos
There were also early concerns for superstar Dustin Martin, who copped a corked thigh but pushed through discomfort to be a key contributor.
Versatile youngster Sydney Stack is at longs odds to return to the Tigers' line-up after playing in VFL Grand Final triumph on Sunday, just five weeks after undergoing surgery for a right syndesmosis injury. In limited game time, Stack had six touches and appeared to tweak the same ankle but returned to the field.