Collingwood has sprung its second big selection surprise in as many weeks, rushing in captain Nick Maxwell for Saturday night’s showdown against Fremantle.
While there has been speculation all week about the possible comeback of Luke Ball, Maxwell has flown in from nowhere to lead the Pies in the pivotal clash at Patersons Stadium.
Maxwell has not played since badly injuring a wrist against Carlton in round two, and he was expected to be sidelined for up to two months after surgery.
However, the 29-year-old defender has completed a remarkable recovery, and did enough in several key sessions this week to prove his fitness and join elevated rookie Caolan Mooney as inclusions in the Pies team.
Mooney was impressive in the VFL last week with five goals and the Irishman’s stellar form over several weeks at the lower level has earned him an elevation to the main list, with youngsters Jackson Ramsay and Tim Broomhead out because of long-term injuries.
Tyson Goldsack has been ruled out with a hip injury and young ruckman Jarrod Witts has been dropped after making his debut last week.
In other big selection news on Thursday, Melbourne named highly touted recruit Chris Dawes to play his first game for the club. The former Collingwood forward has been forced to sit out the first six rounds with a hamstring strain but will make his debut against Gold Coast at the MCG on Sunday.
Dawes used a media opportunity on Thursday to reveal he had no regrets about leaving Collingwood – despite Melbourne’s plight – and to declare he was ready to make a difference to the struggling Demons.
”I won’t just be planning on getting through, I’ll be bringing a lot of effort and leadership to that forward line,” Dawes said.
”I’ll tie up one of their big-bodied defenders and hopefully have a bit of a physical presence myself.”
The Western Bulldogs have regained a clutch of experienced stars for their match with North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, with Daniel Giansiracusa, Bob Murphy and Ryan Griffen all named in the side.
The Roos will welcome back champion forward Brent Harvey.
Carlton has named ruckman Matthew Kreuzer in the starting 18 for Monday’s showpiece game against St Kilda. Kreuzer has not played since fracturing his thumb in round three.