DUAL premiership player Darcy Graham’s participation in Warrnambool’s finals campaign is in doubt after the midfielder suffered a serious hamstring injury at training.
Graham has been ruled out of the Blues’ second semi-final showdown with Koroit at Port Fairy’s Gardens Oval tomorrow.
Graham, who was a member of the Blues’ 2012 and 2013 premiership teams, had played every home-and-away game this season.
Coach Scott Carter said Graham suffered what is believed to be a tendon injury in the last 10 minutes of training on Tuesday night.
“It was like someone was sitting on top of the grandstand and shot him,” Carter said.
The coach said he and the Blues medical team were unsure when Graham would return.
“The very earliest possible return would be the grand final,” he said. “He was just running. It’s extremely disappointing for him because he’s played every game.”
Graham’s injury cleared the way for his cousin, small forward Jye Turland, to be recalled.
Turland, who has played 11 senior games, has been battling to find a spot in the side in the second half of the season. He has played seven games in the under 18½s, finishing second in the league best and fairest.
“Jye is a very good player coming in for a second semi-final. He played a cracker of a game in the grand final last year,” Carter said.
“His pace is going to be a bonus coming off interchange, especially on a dry deck on a warm day.”
Opponent Koroit has its own injury concerns.
Veteran defender Chris McLaren was ruled out with a quad strain he sustained midway through the final quarter of last Saturday’s qualifying win.
But the Saints named dynamic midfielder Levi Nagorcka, despite him missing last week with a shoulder injury, in a 22-man squad.
Nagorcka joined teenager Matthew Speed as the additions.Coach Adam Dowie said Nagorcka’s inclusion had been left up to medical professionals.
“He’s right to go,” Dowie said.
“He’s been to Melbourne and got a really good diagnosis.
“We know we are going to be playing another game at some stage so if there was any increased risk we wouldn’t have played him.”
McLaren’s injury was “not too bad” but Dowie said he was no certainty to play next week if the Saints found themselves in a preliminary final.
“If we happen to play next week, it’s probably going to be 50-50.”
North Warrnambool Eagles added two quality players to its line-up for Sunday’s first semi-final against Terang Mortlake at Koroit’s Victoria Park.
The Eagles named zippy forward/midfielder Jarryd Lewis after he suffered a hamstring injury in round 18 and midfielder Nathan Murphy, who was a late withdrawal with hamstring tightness last week, as they opted to go with an extended bench.
Coach Bernard Moloney said the bench would be trimmed after a light run tomorrow morning.
He said midfielder Andy McMeel, who limped for much of last Saturday’s match when the Eagles were defeated by Koroit, and defender Xavier Mills, who suffered a heavy knock to the kidneys, had both recovered well. Moloney said the pair trained strongly last night.
Opponent Terang Mortlake made two changes to the side that prevailed by a point against Camperdown in the elimination final last Sunday.
Midfielder Sam McLean and talented forward Joe Arundell were included at the expense of talls Xavier Lourey and Dylan Jones.
Coach Matthew Irving said Lourey suffered an ankle injury in the first 15 minutes against the Magpies and had not recovered. While he played out the game, the Bloods weren’t prepared to risk the key defender.
“We weren’t willing to wait until Sunday,” he said.
“If he’s not 100 per cent tonight he won’t be 100 per cent on Sunday.”
Jones was unlucky to miss out with the Bloods opting to go with a smaller line-up.
He said McLean, a powerful running player, and Arundell, a quick lead-up forward, could be critical in the expected warm conditions.