THE most talked about knee in Warrnambool and District league football isn’t at 100 per cent and probably won’t be for the rest of the season.
But ruckman James “Dozer” Keane will battle through the pain as Panmure attempts to keep its season alive in the preliminary final tomorrow.
Keane will play his first match since round 16 when the Bulldogs take on Dennington at Reid Oval, one of two changes for the minor premier.
He has battled knee soreness — most likely caused by bone bruising — for much of the season but the club is confident he can have an impact against the Dogs.
“He’s just going to play through the pain,” Panmure coach Simon O’Keefe said last night. “Dozer is one of our best leaders on and off the ground. He has a presence and the boys stand a bit taller with him out there.
“I won’t lie, he’s not 100 per cent, but he’s fit enough to play and contribute. That might limit his ruck time a little bit but he’s so good forward.
“When he’s up and about he’s one of our best forwards. We’ll play him through the ruck and forward and see how he goes.”
Keane’s availability is as timely as it is important.
He replaces Dan Ryan, who injured a knee early against Merrivale in the second semi-final.
Their omissions last weekend meant Daniel Roache had to ruck for most of the match against the Tigers, leaving Tim McPherson and Tom White as the focal points in attack.
But McPherson later moved into defence, opening the door for the Tigers to double-team White and rebound the ball out of their back line.
O’Keefe declared White, McPherson and either Keane or Roache would start forward tomorrow, with the Bulldogs keen to stretch the Dogs for height. “The majority of footy we’ve played in the last three years we’ve had those two boys (Roache and Keane) in,” he said.
“There’s no question about it, Dozer is a massive cog in our side.
“We’re backing him in, we think he’ll get through.”