MERRIVALE ruckman Rhys Raymond has ruled himself out of this weekend’s Warrnambool and District league blockbuster against Panmure.
Raymond, 24, is likely to miss the next two weeks at a minimum after suffering a calf injury representing the league against Colac and District on Saturday.
The Tigers recruit said he heard the muscle “pop” in the warm-up. He had a trainer strap his calf but was on the bench permanently minutes later.
“About five minutes in I went to take off and that was the end of me,” he said.
“The trainer couldn’t diagnose anything but he could feel a lump where it was pretty painful.” Raymond will see a physiotherapist today but dismissed any thoughts of him playing in the first-versus-second clash at Panmure on Saturday.
“Right now I won’t be playing for a couple of weeks. I can tell it’s a bit worse than a strain, it was probably strained before the match,” he said.
“(It’s a) big disappointment. It’s a top-of-the-table clash that will put us on top, pretty much, if we win it. It’s just really disappointing.”
But Raymond said the injury would not discourage him from putting his hand up to play interleague in coming years.
He said interleague matches were “10 times better football” than a regular-season contest and were more akin to a grand final.
Raymond is one of a few injury concerns Merrivale has leading into its biggest match since a narrow loss to Allansford in round one.
League leading goalkicker Jet Dowie was substituted with a back complaint in the round preceding interleague weekend against Nirranda.
The injury ruled him out of representative duties and he remains in doubt to take on the Bulldogs.
Coach Karl Dwyer is also battling a knee issue and was wearing a brace while helping the representative side at training last week.
Manny Sandow and Jack Grace will likely split the ruck duties, with Joe Woonton or James Fary potentially playing deep in the forward line.
Panmure is not without its own selection issues. Simon O’Keefe injured a quadricep midway through the third quarter against Colac and District.
The injury was such that the Warrnambool and District coach opted against returning despite his side trailing by 27 points at three-quarter-time.
The Bulldogs-Tigers match is one of two which could have major implications as to where sides finish at the end of the season.
Fifth-placed Dennington hosts fourth-placed Kolora-Noorat at Dennington in what shapes as a mid-season elimination final.
The loser is likely to drop out of the top five, with sixth-placed Old Collegians playing East Warrnambool, and faces a tough task to regain its spot.
In other matches, Russells Creek has a major opportunity to snare its first win against Timboon Demons at Mack Oval.
Deakin University welcomes South Rovers to the Pond while Nirranda plays Allansford at Timboon — a match transferred away from Nirranda due to ground works.