WARRNAMBOOL and Terang Mortlake both suffered big blows last night, losing star forwards for tomorrow’s round three blockbuster at Reid Oval.
Warrnambool will be without dynamic centre half-forward Travis Graham, who has a back injury, according to coach Scott Carter, while Terang Mortlake lost a key target and ruck option with Steve Staunton sidelined because of a groin injury.
Carter was unsure how long Graham, a member of the Blues’ 2010 premiership side, would be sidelined.
His absence clears the way for Liam Sheppard to line up for his first senior game since late in 2010.
Sheppard suffered a shoulder injury and missed the Blues’ September action in 2010 and had last year away from the game.
Opponent Terang Mortlake lost Staunton among five changes, all forced. Forward Joel Crawley and Brett Molan are unavailable because of work commitments, while the versatile duo of Ryan and Liam O’Connor are unavailable because they are attending a wedding.
The Bloods regained key defender Chris Baxter and promoted four first-gamers — Jake Richardson, Nathan Sargeant, Joe Arundell and Sam Crawley.
Coach Shane Threlfall said the youngsters would bring some excitement and pace.
Ladder-leader Koroit was forced to make three changes for its clash with the winless North Warrnambool Eagles at Victoria Park on Sunday.
The Saints, fresh from last week’s 13-point win over Warrnambool, couldn’t consider talented teens Marty Gleeson and Haydn Drew, who have TAC Cup commitments with North Ballarat Rebels, while fellow Rebel Jayden Whitehead was ruled out because he is having his tonsils out today.
Into the side comes gun midfielder James North, who was unavailable last week, utility Aaron Moyne and key defender Jamie Mugavin.
The Eagles promoted key defender David Lush for his first game after crossing from Templestowe in the off-season and quick teenager Joe Dwyer for his senior debut. Aiden Long is unavailable, while Tom Ludeman was omitted.
The undefeated Cobden named former Carlton draftee Joe Dare for his first game with the Bombers in tomorrow night’s anticipated clash with reigning premier South Warrnambool at Cobden.
Geelong Falcons Sam Cunnington, Michael Salmon and Brendan Richardson are also in, while Daniel Watson (Falcons), Angus Uwland, Chris Mahony and Luke Kensit are out.
South Warrnambool, after a five-point win over the Eagles, named an unchanged line-up.
Camperdown, also undefeated, decided against risking gun midfielder Sam Chapman (hamstring) for another week, despite making two changes for the game against Port Fairy at Leura Oval.
Midfielders Jessie Gallichan and Jamie Titmus were promoted for their first senior games after Eddie Lucas (A/C joint) and James gellie (unavailable) couldn’t be considered.
Port Fairy brought in a third of a new side, making seven changes, four forced.
Assistant coach Mick Sheehan and debutants Jake Hetherington and Matthew Fry come in, along with the entertaining Frankie Vigona-Daniel, who returns from the Northern Territory six years after he last played with the Seagulls. Sam Burchell and Louis Fary, who had sought clearances to Allansford, were also named after training strongly.
Mason Crosier was left out with a hamstring injury, while star forwards Xavier McCartney and Jay Solomon are unavailable.