Welcome to AFL Saturday, our coverage of today’s matches:
Collingwood vs. Melbourne, 1.45pm
Brisbane vs. North Melbourne, 2.10pm
Sydney vs. Carlton, 4.35pm
Port Adelaide vs. Gold Coast, 7.10pm
Geelong vs. GWS, 7.25pm
FRIDAY night saw the AFL world farewell retiring champions Luke Hodge, Josh Gibson, Bob Murphy and Matthew Boyd as Hawthorn defeated the Western Bulldogs, ending both sides’ seasons. The action on Saturday will give us a better idea of what the top eight picture will look like.
One game won’t decide Nathan Buckley’s future but he’ll still be hoping his Magpies can end the year on a high when they take on Melbourne so he can sleep a little easier. But a victory for the Demons means they will walk into September action for the first time in 11 years.
GWS can claim the minor premiership if it defeats Geelong and Adelaide loses to West Coast on Sunday, while at the other end of the ladder the loser of the Brisbane vs. North Melbourne clash will “win” the wooden spoon.
Port has lost two games on the bounce but can boost its confidence heading into the finals with a win over Gold Coast. However, if it loses and Richmond suffers the same fate tomorrow against St Kilda, Sydney can jump into the top four by defeating Carlton at the SCG this afternoon.
Ablett’s return disrespectful
Retired Brownlow Medallist Adam Cooney says Gary Ablett’s return to former team Geelong would be “disrespectful” to the veterans the club has moved on in recent times.
The gun midfielder is angling to head back to Victoria in 2018 after his attempted return at the start of this season fell through. Injuries have cruelled his season and he won’t play in the Suns’ final clash against Port Adelaide, withdrawing from the side just a couple of hours after being named to play.
Conjecture over Ablett’s future has plagued both he and the Suns for much of 2017, but Cooney believes it would be a strange move for Geelong to welcome him back with open arms given how it’s discarded older players in the past few years.
“I know the Geelong supporters want him back there but it’s almost a bit disrespectful to their stars that they’ve retired already,” Cooney said on Fox Sorts’ Gameday Live. “James Kelly (Essendon), Paul Chapman (Essendon, now retired), Steve Johnson (GWS) and Jimmy Bartel (retired) to name a few.
“Do they get a 34-year-old Gary Ablett back to the side who’s had his injury woes this year? I think the only way they get him back to Geelong is if they don’t give up too much for him and Gold Coast possibly pay some of his salary, but that doesn’t look too likely.”
The Suns named Ablett in their side for Saturday night’s game after two matches out because of a hamstring problem, but he and teammate Jack Bowes failed fitness tests later on Thursday night at training, meaning they promptly were out of the side again.
“Gaz gave himself the best opportunity to play this weekend, but unfortunately at training this evening he simply could not reach the speed required to be passed fit to play this weekend,” Suns football manager Marcus Ashcroft said.
Ablett’s hamstring problem has troubled him for the last few weeks, but Gold Coast was hopeful he would return for the last game of the season.
O’Meara’s awkward post-match effort
Jaeger O’Meara hasn’t seen a whole lot of footy since joining Hawthorn from Gold Coast this year, and it showed on Friday night.
The former NAB Rising Star has played only six games in 2017 because of injury — the Hawks losing the first five of those matches. The 23-year-old finally knows what it’s like to win in Hawks colours after they defeated the Western Bulldogs last night, but while he starred on the field with 25 touches it was a different story in the sheds after the match.
Standing next to retiring champion Luke Hodge as the team sung its victory song, O’Meara clearly struggled to belt out the tune because he appeared not to know the words.
Skip to the 5.30 mark in the video below to watch the 23-year-old battle his way through.
“If you don’t know the words, Jaeger, off to the side,” Adam Cooney joked on Fox Sports.
Mad Monday sledge prompted Cooney spray
Bob Murphy is one of the most loved players in footy, but he wasn’t always Mr Nice Guy.
Adam Cooney — the 2008 Brownlow Medallist — is a former teammate of the retiring Bulldogs star and, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, claimed credit for his outstanding 312-career.
“I like to attribute most of Bob’s success to a moment we had on a Mad Monday,” Cooney said on Fox Sports program Gameday Live on Saturday.
“He was playing OK at the time, but wasn’t really playing consistently. He had some good games and some bad games, and he had a crack at me about being one of the worst Brownlow Medallists ever.
“So I gave him one of the all-time sprays back about how inconsistent he was a player and from that moment on he became one of the great players in the AFL. So I put that down to the chat we had on Mad Monday.”
Originally published as Live: Ablett move ‘disrespectful’
Source: sports dailytelegraph