Big guns back to take on the Cats
Brisbane Lions Football Club
Thu 23 August, 2001
Important Lions ruckman Beau McDonald and brilliant midfielder Jason Akermanis have been recalled as expected for Sundays clash against Geelong at Shell Stadium.
Akermanis was close to playing last week against Fremantle in Perth, but was replaced in the side on match eve on the advice of medical staff.
The Brownlow Medal candidate spent most of the previous week on the bench against Richmond nursing hamstring and foot problems, but has trained positively this week.
The 24-year-old has produced a string of outstanding performances this year that has put him up among the top 10 Brownlow Medal fancies and squarely in line for his second All-Australian guernsey.
McDonald also aggravated a minor back-related hamstring problem leading up to the Dockers game and missed just his second game of the season.
The big 21-year-olds role in the Lions 11-game winning streak, along with that of Clark Keating, has received little fanfare but their efforts have been hugely important.
They have nullified or beaten the best ruck batteries in the business and McDonalds return is timely considering Geelongs Steven King is another potential matchwinner for his side.
Providing both McDonald and Akermanis train strongly at the Gabba tomorrow afternoon, they would be expected to be automatic inclusions in the line-up to take on the Cats.
The Lions had to make at least one change to the side that won a club record 11th straight game against Fremantle last weekend anyway, with centre-half-back Darryl White forced to sit out this week through suspension.
The other inclusions in the provisional 25-man squad are running defender Martin Pike, utility Damian Cupido, and tall defender Matthew Kennedy.
Pike has spent the past two weeks in the reserves and had missed just one senior game prior to that through illness. He was a solid contributor through the early and middle stages of the season.
Pike collected 37 possessions playing for the Lions Reserves against Broadbeach two weeks ago, and gathered another 28 despite being tagged by the Sharks at Redlands last week.
With the experience of having played in 14 finals, including two grand finals, Pike is sure to remain a strong contender for senior selection.
Whites unavailability has also convinced the selectors to plump for Kennedy in the initial squad, despite the 186-game veteran missing the last two weeks with hamstring problems.
Kennedy has played just six games in an injury-interrupted season, his last senior outing being against the Kangaroos in Round 17, although he has been a dominant force at reserves level when fit.
Cupido again worked hard in the reserves last week and continues to put his name before the selectors.
Youngster Dylan McLaren has retained his place in the 25-man squad after playing his first senior match against Fremantle last week, while fellow debutant Ashley McGrath is the other omission alongside White for the time being.
The squad will be trimmed to 22 tomorrow night after training.
The Lions 25-man squad is:
B: Jason Akermanis, Mal Michael, Chris Johnson
HB: Brad Scott, Justin Leppitsch, Marcus Ashcroft
C: Chris Scott, Michael Voss, Tim Notting
HF: Luke Power, Jonathan Brown, Nigel Lappin
F: Craig McRae, Alastair Lynch, Daniel Bradshaw
R: Clark Keating, Simon Black, Shaun Hart
I/C: (from) Robbie Copeland, Damian Cupido, Des Headland, Dylan McLaren, Beau McDonald, Martin Pike, Matthew Kennedy.
In: Jason Akermanis, Damian Cupido, Matthew Kennedy, Martin Pike, Beau McDonald.
Out: Darryl White (susp), Ashley McGrath (omit)