REIGNING premier South Warrnambool last night named 2006 premership player Pat Smith for his first game of footy this year in tomorrow’s third-place showdown against Koroit at the Friendly Societies’ Park.
Smith, a strong marking key position player, was cleared from Victorian Amateur Football Association side Uni Blues just days before the June 30 deadline.
But the talented cricketer didn’t play with Uni Blues this season and enters tomorrow’s game with no match practice.
He was the Roosters’ only inclusion to the side that defeated Port Fairy by 90 points last week, with hard-nut Shane O’Leary the unlucky one to make way.
Koroit, which clings to third spot on percentage, had its own surprise, listing playing coach Chris McLaren as an emergency for the round 13 match-of-the-day clash.
McLaren, who suffered a serious knee injury in round four, was considered unlikely to play again this season. But he has made speedy progress and has been training in recent weeks.
The Saints rushed back key forward Sam Dobson, who missed last week’s one-point loss to Cobden while starring for the VCFL under 19 side in its win over the amateurs. They also included ruckman Scott Linskens for his first senior game of the year, while assistant coach Karl Dwyer couldn’t be considered because of a shoulder injury that could sideline him for anywhere between two and six weeks.
Fifth-placed Cobden made two changes for its home clash with arch-rival Camperdown tomorrow. The Bombers regained defender/ruckman Bronte McCann from suspension and welcomed back talented teen Michael Salmon from Geelong Falcons duties. He replaces another impressive junior Zach Merrett, who returns to private school footy, while Angus Uwland returns to the under 18s.
Camperdown, fresh from claiming top spot with a six-point win over Warrnambool, regained former Cobden coach James Gellie for the clash. Out are forward Fraser Lucas (Werribee) and one of last week’s heroes Aaron Davis, who kicked two goals, but tweaked a knee at training on Tuesday, along with gun midfielder Sam Chapman, who is representing the VCFL at the national championships.
Seventh-placed Terang Mortlake got a major boost to its midfield, with Nathan Couch returning from a persistent hamstring injury for the must-win game against bottom side Port Fairy at Terang Recreation Reserve.
Couch, who hasn’t played since round nine, was joined in the side by debutant Jason Lee, the 12th under 18 player to be promoted to the Bloods’ seniors this year as they look to keep their diminishing finals hopes alive.
Teenager Damian Moloney couldn’t be considered because of a neck injury, while half-back Michael Payne was omitted.
Port Fairy regained star Jay Solomon among four changes.
Sixth-placed North Warrnambool Eagles made no change for the first time this season ahead of Sunday’s game against Warrnambool at Bushfield Recreation Reserve.
The Eagles, coming off a 68-point win against Terang Mortlake, are in the envious position of having no injuries.
Warrnambool recalled player Andrew McCarthy for his first game since he suffered a broken thumb in round seven as it looks to bounce back from last week’s loss to Camperdown.
Midfielder Brad Bull was ruled out with a hamstring strain.